2017-07-26 / Front Page

Police charge drivers in multiple cases last week

An Indiana man was arrested in Berkeley Springs last Thursday, July 20 and charged with driving a stolen van. Ryan S. Woodrum, 30, of Indianapolis faces felony charges of receiving/transferring stolen property and transferring/transporting stolen property into the state after the West Virginia State Police determined that the van he was driving had been reported stolen in Columbus, Ohio on June 28.

Cpl. S.R. Smith responded to a call that a man at Sheetz was attempting to sell a possible stolen laptop inside the store and was harassing people. When Cpl. Smith checked the registration on the Chrysler Town & Country minivan being operated by Woodrum, he found it was reported stolen.

According to Cpl. Smith, police in Columbus said that Woodrum had used the ride-sharing app Lyft to get a ride in Ohio. When the driver stopped to get gas, Woodrum allegedly stole the minivan. Woodrum told police he was heading to Philadelphia.

Woodrum remains in custody at the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $30,000 bail.

Man flees police

A Berkeley Springs man has been charged with child neglect creating risk of injury after he fled from police with an infant in the car.

Francis L. Belt III faces felony neglect charges and fleeing from an officer offense following an incident on Thursday, July 20 in southern Morgan County.

According to a complaint filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, Deputy Dennis Jenkins of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department was in the Cacapon South subdivision shortly before 9 p.m. investigating a suspicious vehicle complaint when Belt passed by his cruiser in a vehicle with a “smashed up” front end and excessively loud exhaust. Deputy Jenkins tried to stop Belt’s vehicle by activating his lights, but Belt allegedly sped up instead and refused to stop. He continued to drive through the subdivision at 55 mph, then came to a stop and tried to flee on foot.

According to the complaint, a female passenger in the front said she tried to get Belt to stop. A two-yearold infant was riding in the back of the vehicle, said police.

A check of Belt’s vehicle showed the license plate and vehicle registration did not match, the car had no insurance and Belt’s driver’s license in Maryland was suspended.

Belt remains in the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $20,000 bail.

Truck driver charged

James L. Arnold, 42, of Pennsylvania was charged last Friday, July 21 with multiple misdemeanor offenses relating to his operation of a flat bed tractor-trailer along U.S. 522 south of Berkeley Springs.

Police responded to reckless driver complaints in the 8000 block of Valley Road (U.S. 522) moving north. Callers advised 911 that the truck had crossed the centerline and nearly struck another vehicle head-on.

Cpl. Scott Lemon of the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department pulled the truck over in front of Dawson’s Home Center. In a criminal complaint filed in Morgan County Magistrate Court, Lemon said the driver, Arnold, moved into the passenger seat when he was pulled over. He was unable to produce a driver’s license and his passenger, Andrea Firtik, 40, had no identification either.

Cpl. Lemon and Cpl. S.R. Smith of the West Virginia State Police interviewed Arnold and Firtik separately.

Firtik continued to try and get into the cab of the truck and to move away from the officers, Cpl. Lemon alleged. At one point, she reached into her shirt and then tossed an item away into a grassy area.

There, Cpl. Lemon located a used hypodermic syringe and cotton containing suspected heroin residue.

A further K-9 search of the vehicle yielded two wax paper packets of white powdery substance, a dirty elastic band, razor blades and cotton swabs.

Cpl. Lemon noted in his complaint that no field test of the suspected drugs were performed due to the risk of encountering fentanyl, a powerful tranquilizer.

Firtik was charged with obstructing an officer and possession of a controlled substance. She remains in the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $15,000 bail.

Arnold was charged by Cpl. Smith with driving while his license was suspended, giving false information to law enforcement, DUI with a commercial vehicle and possession of a controlled substance. He remains in the Eastern Regional Jail in lieu of a $40,000 bond.

Employee charged

A Berkeley Springs man was charged last Tuesday, July 18 with felony grand larceny for allegedly stealing from the Advanced Auto Parts store where he worked.

Michael Steiner, 28, is accused of falsely generating store returns and then stealing the cash refunds. Deputies with the Morgan County Sheriff’s Department conducted an investigation after being contacted by the store’s regional Loss Prevention department.

Steiner is accused of creating $4,199 worth of transactions for refunds in which no products were returned. He allegedly told police he committed the thefts to pay off a past drug debt.

Steiner is free on a $2,500 bond.

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