ILLINOIS MAN GUILTY OF TAMPERING WITH A MOTOR VEHICLE
On January 18, a Phelps County Jury found Wayne Whitmore, 34, of Springfield, Illinois, guilty of felony Tampering With a Motor Vehicle. The incident occurred in May 2014, when Whitmore traded a Polaris ATV to a Rolla resident. Whitmore promised he would deliver the vehicle title, which he never did. The ATV’s owner testified that the vehicle was missing earlier in 2014, and that he had never given Whitmore permission... to transfer it. Whitmore’s mother claimed the ATV had belonged to her, and that she had given her son permission to trade it. However, another witness’s testimony established that Whitmore claimed ownership of the ATV and never indicated he was acting on his mother’s behalf at the time of the trade. The case was tried by Assistant Prosecutor Bill Hudson with Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann.
Elected Prosecutor Brendon Fox noted: “One important lesson from this case is to make sure to get the title whenever purchasing a vehicle. There are a lot of scammers looking to take advantage of people.”
Whitmore will be sentenced March 8, and faces up to seven years in prison.
January 10, 2018
Christopher Ward Guilty of Felony Driving while Revoked...
On Tuesday, the Honorable John D. Beger found Christopher Ward, 39 of Rolla, guilty of the felony of driving with a revoked license. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Senior Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Brad Neckermann.
On December 24, 2016, Rolla Police Officer Trevor Young passed a white 2009 Cadillac on 18th Street near Bishop Avenue. The officer observed that the vehicle had no front plate, so he turned around to make a traffic stop. Less than a minute later, he was able to locate the car at a nearby gas station. By that time, Ward was out of the vehicle pumping gas. At trial, the defendant and two of his friends testified that another male was driving the vehicle that day and that Ward was just pumping gas.
Officer Young testified that he was “110 percent positive” that Ward was the one who was driving when he passed the vehicle on 18th Street. Young also testified that no other male was in the car at the gas station, which called into question the testimony of the defense witnesses. Ward had previously been found guilty of driving while revoked at least twice, as well as numerous other offenses including multiple DWI’s, which is why this case was prosecuted as a felony.
Judge Beger found the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt and set sentencing for March 15, 2018. At that time, Ward can be sentenced from 1-7 years in prison. Reached for comment, Neckermann said, "Driving while revoked has real consequences. If a person has no license, then they also don’t have insurance, which means that they present a danger to every other driver on the road. This is particularly true in this case, where the defendant has multiple prior convictions for DWI.”
Patricia Bast guilty of Statutory Rape
On Monday, the Honorable John D. Beger found Patricia Bast, 39 of St. Louis, guilty of two counts of statutory rape in the second degree following a court trial. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney Brendon Fox and Assistant Prosecutor Kara Breshears.
On August 26, 2016 Det. Serif Sadikovic of the St. Louis County Police Department was investigating a sex crime involving Ms. Bast in St. Louis County. During t...he investigation, Det. Sadikovic learned that Bast had provided alcohol and Xanax to her two victims on several occasions in St. Louis County. Det. Sadikovic also learned that Bast had traveled to Rolla on June 21, 2016 and stayed in a motel where she had sexual intercourse with both of her victims. Upon learning of the crime in Rolla, Det. Sadikovic contacted Det. Sgt. Hank Harper of the Rolla Police Department to pick up the case. At trial, both victims, aged 14 and 15 at the time, testified about the ongoing sexual relationship with Bast, including the trip to Rolla.
Sentencing is set for March 15, 2018 at 9:00AM. Bast remains in custody until sentencing at which time she will face up to 14 years in prison. Charges in St. Louis County are still pending.
JERALD LETNER GUILTY OF
STATUTORY RAPE IN THE FIRST DEGREE
At 11:00 PM on Tuesday night, a Phelps County jury returned a guilty verdict on Statutory Rape in the First Degree against Jerald Letner, 39, of Leesburg, Florida. The case was presided over by the Honorable William E. Hickle. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox....
In September of 2004, a four year old child disclosed to her grandmother that “Jerry” had sexually abused her when she was living with him. A forensic interview was conducted at the CAC of East Central Missouri where the child disclosed that Letner had sexually abused her. The case was filed in 2005 but ended up being dropped because, due to the victim’s age, she was unable to go through the court process.
In early 2015, Det. Sgt. Hank Harper of the Rolla Police Department was reviewing old case files when he came across the case. He contacted the Prosecutor’s Office about re-opening the case to see if the victim was interested in pursuing the case. Det. Sgt. Harper was given the go ahead and located the victim, then 15 years old in another state. She wanted to have charges re-filed and the case to go to trial. The case was filed and a warrant was issued. Letner was located in Florida and the Prosecutor had to apply for a Governor’s Warrant to force extradition back to Missouri to answer the charges.
“I am very pleased with the verdict,” said Fox. “This case had a long and unique history, which is unusual, but I hope it shows that victims needn’t suffer in silence forever. It is never too late to come forward and share your experience.”
Letner will remain in the Phelps County Jail pending sentencing on February 26, 2018 at 1:00 PM. He faces from five to 30 years in prison for his crime.
EDWARD PARKER, III SENTENCED TO SIX YEARS IN PRISON FOR DRUNKENLY CRASHING INTO A POLICE CAR AND INJURING OFFICER
On Thursday, the Honorable William E. Hickle sentenced Edward Parker, III to six years in prison for Assault in the Second Degree. Sentencing took place following a plea of guilty by Parker on October 5, 2017. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox.
On January 5, 2016, at around 5:45 p.m. Sgt. Kenneth Moberly of the Rolla Po...lice Department was in his patrol vehicle westbound on 10th Street. He observed a silver Nissan Truck traveling eastbound drive up over the curb, through two mailboxes and yards before re-entering the roadway and crashing into Moberly. The truck continued through Ber Juan Park avoiding trees before re-entering at the intersection of 10th Street and Angus Valley. The driver was identified as Edward Parker, III, 37 of Rolla. He was determined to have been drinking alcohol while taking prescriptions for Klonopin and Suboxone. He was also using methamphetamine. As a result of the crash, Moberly suffered a fractured vertebrae and missed months of work.
“Impaired driving is 100% preventable and the consquences are severe. I am thankful Sgt. Moberly is back at work catching drunk drivers. I am hopeful that this case will remind people to not get behind the wheel when drinking or taking drugs,” said Fox.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!
WATCH: In the spirit of Thanksgiving, police across the country surprised unsuspecting drivers by handing them turkeys instead of tickets.
JAMES “MAX’ MORELAND GUILTY OF
STATUTORY SODOMY IN THE FIRST DEGREE
On Wednesday, a Pulaski County jury deliberated for a little over two hours before returning a guilty verdict on Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree against James “Max” Moreland, 67, of St. James. The case was presided over by the Honorable William E. Hickle. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox. The case was heard in Waynesville after the defendant exercised his rig...ht to a change of venue.
On February 26, 2014, a six year old child disclosed to foster parents that “Max” had sexually abused her when she was living with him when she was four or five years old. DFS and the St. James Police Department began an investigation into the allegations and identified “Max” as James Moreland from St. James. The investigation determined that the child victim had resided with Moreland in St. James during a time period in 2011 and 2012.
The jury found Moreland guilty on one count of Statutory Sodomy in the First Degree but acquitted him on two other counts.
“I am very pleased with the verdict. Even though the jury split the counts, they convicted on what I feel was the strongest count,” said Fox. “Everyone involved in this case did tremendous work to bring Mr. Moreland to justice. Sherie Diedrich who was formerly with DFS, Diana Sederwall and Jamie Wheat and everyone else with Kid’s Harbor Too, the entire St. James Police Department, the foster parents, and most importantly the child victim all helped hold this dangerous child predator accountable.”
Moreland’s bond was revoked pursuant to state law and he will be held pending sentencing on January 22, 2018 at 1:00 PM in Phelps County before Judge Hickle. He faces from ten to 30 years in prison for his crime.
JAMIE HOPKINS GETS 15 YEARS FOR METH TRAFFICKING
On Monday, Judge John D. Beger sentenced Jamie Hopkins, 42, of Kansas City (formerly Rolla), to 15 years in prison for trafficking methamphetamine in the first degree. The sentence is to be served without the possibility of parole. The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann and Prosecuting Attorney Brendon Fox.
On December 10, 2015, Phelps County Deputies Alex Maurer and Glenn Suschanke and members of the South Central Drug Task Force stopped a vehicle driven by Hopkins. A search of his vehicle located more than six ounces of methamphetamine. “PCSD and the Task Force did a great job in this case. They were able to prevent this dangerous criminal from bringing almost half a pound of methamphetamine into our community,” said Neckermann.
Last night we had another successful Kids-in-Court program where we were able to explain the court system in a calm, safe, and fun way to several child victims of crime. Thank you to Kid's Harbor Too, Crystal Cox, Judge John Beger, Ronnie Campbell, and Roy Bell for helping answer questions and explain what goes on. A big thank you the Alex's Pizza Palace for providing dinner to the kids and their families. And a big thank you to Carmelo Laura Alioto for being the best delivery driver ever.
LAWRENCE MULLEN GETS THREE LIFES PLUS 22 YEARS FOR STATUTORY SODOMY AND CHILD PORNOGRAPHY
On Monday, the Honorable William E. Hickle sentenced Lawrence Mullen, 49 of Rolla, to three life sentences plus 22 years in prison for two counts of statutory sodomy, and one count each of sexual exploitation of a child, possession of child pornography, and use of a child in a sexual performance. All the sentences were ordered to be served consecutively to one another. The case was pro...secuted by Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney, Brendon Fox and Assistant Prosecutor, Kara Breshears. The sentencing follows guilty verdicts on all counts by a Pulaski County jury on July 19, 2017.
“This was one of the most horrible cases I have ever had to prosecute. Mr. Mullen subjected his five year old victim to horrible sexual abuse and photographed himself doing it. Additionally he had many images of child pornography on his computer. I’m thankful for the victim’s mother for coming forward and making sure he couldn’t have any more victims. I’m thankful for the investigation by the Det. Sgt. Hank Harper and the others at RPD. I’m thankful for the excellent forensic computer work performed by Inv. Wayne Becker. I’m thankful for the work by Moriah Joplin and everyone else at all Child Advocacy Centers state wide. And I am thankful for the assistance at trial by Assistant Prosecutor Kara Breshears and my Legal Assistant Linda Morris. This was a big win for the good guys and we can all rest a little easier knowing Lawrence Mullen can never hurt another child.” said Fox.
Ryan Jordan Sentenced to 25 Years for Robbery
On Wednesday, September 13, 2017, Ryan Jordan, 32, of Newburg, was sentenced to serve 25 years in the Missouri Department of Corrections for a robbery committed in January of this year. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann.
On January 29, 2017, Jordan and an accomplice committed an armed robbery in the Rolla city limits, where they forced a local food delivery driver into a vacant a...partment at gun point and stole $450, $60 in pizza, and the man’s vehicle. The case was investigated by the Rolla Detective Bureau. Seageant Hank Harper and Detective Carl Kossuth were the lead officers on the case, and quickly developed evidence linking Jordan to the robberies. The officers questioned Jordan, who admitted to his part in the robbery and kidnapping. He was immediately incarcerated, where he remained until he pled guilty on Wednesday. The judge found Jordan guilty of robbery, kidnapping, and stealing, and sentenced him to a total of 25 years in prison. Jordan’s accomplice has already pled guilty and is also currently in the Department of Corrections.
“I am happy that we now have resolved both of these cases and am thankful that these men will be serving lengthy sentences for their crimes,” Neckermann said. “The victim in this case was rightfully terrified, and I am hopeful this will bring him some closure.”
Phelps County Prosecuting Attorney Brendon Fox added, “The Detective Bureau should be commended for their work in this case. Within 48 hours, they got two dangerous criminals off the streets. Everyone involved in the investigation and prosecution of this case did great work.”
According to Neckermann, Jordan should not be eligible for parole until 2034 at the earliest.
Salem Man Sentenced to 30 years in prison
On Thursday, September 7, 2017, Judge Ronald D. White sentenced Joshua S. Miller, 38, of Salem, to 30 years in prison for two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly. The case was prosecuted by Phelps County Senior Assistant Prosecutor Brad Neckermann.
Miller had pleaded guilty back in 2014 to two counts of financial exploitation of the elderly, where he had scammed two elderly Rolla citizens out of almost $200,000.00. Accor...ding to Neckermann, Miller used a common scam where a person befriends someone, oftentimes a person who is elderly or disabled, and then offers to perform maintenance work on their homes. Miller told both victims that they needed work on the roofs, insulation in their attics, and other fixes. He told the victims if they didn’t pay what he asked, their homes would be at risk. As is often the situation on these cases, the victims were elderly and unable to verify that the repairs were necessary. One of Miller’s victims wrote checks to Miller totaling $183,500 over a four year period for repairs on a home that was worth less than $150,000.
In June, 2014, Miller was given probation by the original judge to offer him an opportunity to pay back the victims. While on probation, Miller did not pay back any of the money and committed a new offense in Texas County, where he stole jewelry from the home of an elderly woman. Judge White found that the defendant had violated probation and ordered Miller to serve his 30 year sentence.
Prosecutor Brendon Fox issued a warning for people to look out for their elderly relatives and friends. “These scams are more common than you think, and they are rarely reported because the victims are often either unaware they’ve been scammed or are too embarrassed to report it. Please look out for your friends, family, and neighbors, and if you think they are being taken advantage of by someone, report it.”
If you believe someone is the victim of financial exploitation of the elderly or disabled, you can contact the Adult Abuse and Neglect Hotline at 1-800-392-0210.