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Bondsman charged in connection to farm equipment theft

July 15, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

MARTINSBURG, W.VA. -- One of two men charged in the theft of farm equipment last month from Tractor Supply Co. in Hagerstown told police the bondsman who arranged for his release from jail in another case had them steal the equipment instead of pay the bail money, according to court records.

The bondsman, James Van Fillinger of A-1 Bail Bonding, was arraigned Wednesday on felony counts of conspiracy and receiving stolen property by Berkeley County Magistrate JoAnn Overington, who set a $7,500 bond, according to court records.

Fillinger, 42, of 679 Engle Switch Road in Harpers Ferry, W.Va., later was released from custody, but could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Matthew Lee Arias, 19, and Christopher Lee Myers, 26, were arrested last week and charged in West Virginia with receiving and transferring stolen property and still were in Eastern Regional Jail Wednesday, according to court records.

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The stolen property taken from Tractor Supply at 1701 Massey Blvd. was two Farm Force brush hogs with a $1,446 value and a Farm Force scraper blade valued at $350, according to a complaint by Berkeley County Sheriff's Department Deputy Chad Jones.

On June 8, Jones responded to a report of recovered property at 58 Needy Road east of Martinsburg and later confirmed the items were stolen from the Maryland business, according to the deputy's complaint.

Fillinger was at the residence when Jones arrived to investigate and told the deputy he didn't know anything about the equipment possibly being stolen, according to Jones' complaint.

Fillinger later told the deputy Arias and Myers could have dropped off the stolen items, and a witness separately told Jones he knew Fillinger allegedly told the other defendants to steal the equipment, according to court records.

When the deputy caught up with Myers, the defendant said Fillinger "doesn't charge people he bonds out because they have to steal for him instead of paying any money to him," according to Jones' complaint.

If they don't steal for him, Myers said Fillinger tells them he will put them back in jail, according to the complaint.

Myers also told the deputy Fillinger helped him and Arias unload the stolen brush hogs at the Needy Road residence, according to Jones' complaint.

Fillinger's authorization to provide bonding services for the 23rd Judicial Circuit was renewed last month for a three-year term, according to a petition order signed June 23 by Judge David H. Sanders. The circuit is comprised of Berkeley, Jefferson and Morgan counties.

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