(SOLSBERRY) - A bench warrant was issued last week for the arrest of 31-year-old Christopher Michael Whitfield,of Solsberry, and he was taken into custody on Friday.
Anna Rochelle of the Greene County Daily World reports that Whitfield is accused of stealing a backhoe out of a barn and selling it to someone else.
Greene County Sheriff's Detective George Dallaire has been investigating since he was contacted by a couple who said they had purchased a backhoe from Whitfield. After the transaction took place and the backhoe was delivered, they became suspicious that it might have been stolen.
The couple told Dallaire that on Jan. 25, Whitfield offered to sell them a Ford backhoe for $1,500 - said he needed to sell it to pay on his child support. They asked several times if it was stolen and he assured them it was not stolen - he said he got it from an uncle. They gave him a check for $500 down with the rest to paid when the backhoe was delivered.
They said the next day, on Jan. 26, Whitfield arrived at their residence in a red Jeep pulling the backhoe because it had a flat tire and he didn't want to burn the clutch out. After the buyer heard it run, they all agreed on a lower price of $1,200 and they wrote a check for the balance to Whitfield. They also got Whitfield to write out a bill of sale.
On Jan. 27, a family member stopped by the couple's home and said he recognized the backhoe and knew the area where it came from. They started checking around and contacted a man who checked on his property and discovered his backhoe was missing out of his barn.
The backhoe allegedly came from John Carr's barn. Carr went to the couple's residence and was able to identify it.
The couple then agreed to purchase the backhoe from the rightful owner for $1,000, and they contacted Whitfield who they said admitted to stealing it, and promised to pay the couple back. They told the detective they had not received any restitution.
Dallaire interviewed all parties involved plus he talked to people who were in the area of the barn on the day the backhoe was allegedly stolen - people who had spoken to Whitfield on that day and saw him at Carr's barn.
Whitfield was booked into the Greene County Jail Friday and was being held on a $14,000 surety bond with ten percent cash allowed.
When he appears for an initial hearing in Greene Circuit Court this week, he will be charged with burglary, a class C felony, and theft, a class D felony.
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