Phony Check Arrest

Phony Check Arrest
Social Issues Government

SNOW HILL — A Virginia man faces theft and other charges after using a phony check and providing a false address while making a down payment on a new vehicle at a dealership in Pocomoke.

Around 10 a.m. last Tuesday, a Worcester County Sheriff’s deputy was sent to the Hertrich’s car dealership in Pocomoke for a report of fraud. The investigation revealed a suspect, identified as Gary Messer, 49, of Painter, Va., bought a 2015 Dodge Dart back on June 22 using a check for a down payment. The dealership later learned the check had been written on a closed account.

When notified, Messer failed to return to the dealership to make good on the payment. When attempts were made to locate Messer, the dealership learned he had provided them with a vacant address in Onancock where he had never resided. During the investigation, the deputy learned a possible address for Messer in Painter, Va.

Last Wednesday, the Sheriff’s deputy applied for criminal charges and an arrest warrant was issued. Messer was charged with theft greater than $10,000 and under $100,000, uttering bad check and passing bad check. The Accomac County Sheriff’s Office was able to locate Messer at an address in Painter and he was placed under arrest. He appeared in a Virginia Court where a decision was made to extradite him to Worcester County to face charges. He was returned to Worcester last Thursday and was taken before a District Court Commissioner, who ordered Messer to be held on a $10,000 cash bond.

Berlin Fires Probed

BERLIN — The Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office this week continues to investigate several fires in the Berlin area late last week.

Last Thursday, firefighters responded to a residence on Pony Island Lane in Berlin for a reported fire around 7:30 a.m. In addition, there were several other outside fires occurring around the same time in the immediate area. The cause of the fires is still under investigation and the Worcester County Fire Marshal’s Office is seeking the public’s help for additional information. Anyone with information is urged to call Deputy Fire Marshal Rob Korb at 410-632-5666 or anonymous tips can be made by calling 800-492-7592.

Softball Dads Arrested

SALISBURY — Two New Jersey men were arrested on assault and other charges last week after getting into a brawl before the opening ceremonies of their daughters’ softball tournament in Salisbury.

Just after 6 p.m. last Wednesday, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies responded to the Wicomico Youth and Civic Center for a reported fight between two individuals. When deputies arrived, they found one of the combatants, identified as Michael Barbella being treated by EMS personnel, for a variety of injuries.

The investigation revealed Barbella had been involved in an argument with another man, identified as Michael Duffy, which turned into a heated mutual physical altercation between the pair. During the investigation, it was determined the altercation stemmed from a previous problem, which prompted Barbella to travel to Wicomico County to confront Duffy and other parents from a girls’ travel softball team. The deputy was shown text messages sent by Barbella earlier in the day that appeared to be Barbella challenging Duffy to a fight.

Barbella and Duffy were charged with second-degree assault, disorderly conduct and affray.

Probation, Fine For Cocaine Dealer

SNOW HILL — A Pocomoke man, arrested late last year for dealing drugs near a school, pleaded guilty last week to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced to two years, all of which was suspended in favor of a fine and probation.

Around 5:45 a.m. last Dec. 22, members of the Pocomoke Police Department’s new Special Tactics Operations on Patrol (STOP) unit, along with the Berlin Police Department SWAT team executed a search and seizure warrant at a residence on 8th Street in Pocomoke. Arrested following the warrant execution was Charlie McBride, 62, of Pocomoke.

McBride was charged with possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute within 1,000 feet of a school and possession of paraphernalia. Officers seized 14 individual baggies of suspected cocaine with a street value of $3,500, a one-ounce bag of suspected cocaine, a digital scale, cutting agents, a box of Ziploc bags and $72 in currency.

Last week, McBride pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and was sentenced to two years, all of which was suspended. He was then placed on probation for two years and fined $500.

Facebook Helps Nab Burglary Suspects

SALISBURY — Surveillance images shared on a social network last week helped the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office capture two local men wanted in connection with an attempted residential break-in.

On June 27, Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a residence on Riverton Rd. for an alarm signaling an attempted break-in. The deputy arrived at the residence and observed pry marks on the front door and an open window. It is believed the activation of the alarm scared away the would-be burglars.

During the investigation, surveillance images of the suspects were obtained from the property’s security system and detectives shared the images on the Wicomico County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. Responses to the posting of the images resulted in the identification of Warren Christopher Parker, 30, of Mardela Springs; and Jamie Lawrence Ruark, 29, of Salisbury as the suspects.

Parker and Ruark were located and arrested last Friday. Each has been charged with attempted fourth-degree burglary and malicious destruction of property. Parker was detained on a $6,000 bond, while Ruark was detained on a $10,000 bond.

Horsey Charged With Animal Cruelty

SALISBURY — A Delaware man was arrested on animal cruelty charges in Wicomico County last week after allegedly failing to put down a horse with a broken leg in his care.

On July 9, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy responded to a property on Waller Rd. used for boarding horses. The deputy was called to the site for a report of an injured horse that was lying in tall grass away from the horse boarding area. The investigation revealed a horse owned by Ceba Horsey, 38, of Laurel, had recently suffered a broken leg and that Horsey had taken the horse from the stable the previous day.

Horsey reportedly told others on the property he was going to euthanize the injured horse with an injection. The deputy determined someone had attempted to euthanize the horse after observing the animal’s neck and used syringes on the ground. However, the horse was still alive and in obvious pain. After consulting with Animal Control and a veterinarian, the deputy euthanized the horse.

The deputy applied for and obtained a warrant for Horsey, charging him with aggravated animal cruelty, animal cruelty, causing pain and suffering and failure to provide veterinary care. Horsey was arrested and detained in the Wicomico County Detention Center on a $5,000 bond.

Guilty Plea In Child Porn Case

SALISBURY — A Salisbury man last week pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to distribution of child pornography and now faces as many as seven years in federal prison.

Last week, David C. Andrews, 52, of Salisbury, pleaded guilty to federal distribution of child pornography charges. According to the plea agreement, between May 28 and July 12, 2010, Andrews made files depicting children engaged in sexually explicit conduct, which were made available to others through a file-sharing program installed on his computer.

On July 17, 2010, a Wicomico County Sheriff’s deputy working on undercover investigations of individuals trafficking child pornography through the use of file-sharing programs was able to download child porn being shared from an Internet account at Andrews’ residence. A search warrant was issued at Andrews’ home and law enforcement located 49 images and roughly 160 video segments of child pornography. Andrews admitted he collected and shared child pornography over the Internet.

On June 20, 2014, with law enforcement closing in on him, Andrews admitted that on June 22, 2014, he ran memory-wiping software on the hard drive, thereby deleting any files or images. Andrews directed the investigators to a truck tire in the back yard of the uninhabited house next door where law enforcement recovered a gallon zip lock bag containing the hard drive from the laptop, as well as a tablet computer. Andrews admitted that he attempted to delete the files in an attempt to conceal them. Andrews will be sentenced to between 70 and 87 months in prison.  U.S. District Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Oct. 27.