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Three more charged in DVD scheme

February 21, 2007|by MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Police have identified eight people who allegedly were involved in the theft and resale of dozens of digital video discs from area Wal-Mart stores last year, according to Berkeley County Magistrate Court records.

Jonathan Paul Martin, 26, of 486 Classic Vanville Road in Martinsburg, was arrested Monday and arraigned on one felony count of fraudulent scheme, according to records.

A $50,000 bond was set for Martin's case. Arrest warrants charging one count of fraudulent scheme were issued for two others, Glenda Lagasse and Brandi Speaks, but had not been served by Tuesday afternoon.

According to a complaint filed by West Virginia State Police Trooper J.D. Burkhart, Martin, manager of Famous Pawnbrokers off Winchester Avenue in Martinsburg, and Lagasse, another pawn shop employee, knowingly accepted stolen DVDs and electronic equipment from five people who acted together to steal the merchandise.

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Burkhart said the total value of the stolen DVDs and electronic equipment amounted to about $32,320, but authorities only had been able to recover about $8,981 of property, which mostly was sold on eBay by the pawn shop.

Detained in November for their alleged role in the scheme were Lonnie E. Pennington, David L. Pennington and Jack R. Pennington, all of Kearneysville, W.Va.; Amanda R. Smith of Inwood, W.Va.; and Christine Crosbie of Falling Waters, W.Va. All five face multiple charges, including conspiracy, bringing stolen property into the state and fraudulent scheme.

In his complaint, Burkhart said all five admitted that they stole DVD box sets on at least one occasion from the Wal-Mart in Hagerstown, then sold them at the pawn shop.

Two Wal-Marts in Winchester, Va., and locations in Charles Town, W.Va., and Martinsburg, W.Va., also were targeted, police said.

Burkhart said Smith admitted she and Crosbie would put DVDs selected by the men into their large purses, then go to the front of the store near where Lonnie Pennington would be sitting, having already purchased a DVD.

"... As he was preparing to exit the business, she and Ms. Crosbie would walk out in front of him and the alarm would sound," Burkhart had said.

The women would continue to walk out, but Lonnie Pennington would wait and show the store clerks a receipt for the DVD he purchased and then leave, making them believe he somehow activated the alarm, Burkhart said.

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