URBANA — Four of six people charged in connection with a series of home break-ins during late 2011 and all of 2012 in which credit cards were stolen and used later are in police custody.
Champaign County State's Attorney Julia Rietz said charges were filed against the group Wednesday in Champaign County Circuit Court, following a lengthy investigation by Champaign police detective Dale Rawdin with some help from Champaign County sheriff's investigator Jody Ferry.
One of the six, Matthew Hall, 20, of the 1800 block of West William Street, Champaign, was already in jail, charged with a residential burglary that occurred last fall. In that case, Hall allegedly broke in a home in the 3200 block of Lakeshore Drive in Champaign on Oct. 29.
Also arrested with Hall last fall was Jermaine Johnson, 21, who listed an address on East Main Street in Tolono. Johnson was charged then with residential burglary for allegedly breaking into a home in the 200 block of Arbours Drive in Savoy on Oct. 25.
He was out on bond pending trial in that case when he was arrested Thursday afternoon on the recently filed charges. Rawdin had received information on Johnson's whereabouts and when police tried to stop a car he was in about 2:20 p.m., Johnson jumped from it and ran but was taken into custody within minutes on Mimosa Drive south of Bradley Avenue.
When Hall and Johnson were arrested last fall, sheriff's investigators said the two were believed to be involved in other home break-ins in Savoy and south and southwest Champaign.
Rietz estimated that number at a dozen between October 2011 and November 2012.
Hall and Johnson came under closer scrutiny because they and four other people were seen on surveillance video at Walmart stores in Savoy and Champaign using credit cards that had been stolen in some of those burglaries. Additionally, Rietz said, Johnson was identified as having pawned stolen items at two area pawn shops.
The police investigation led to searches on Nov. 2 of the Tolono residence of Johnson and his girlfriend, Mason Yets, and their car, as well as Hall's home in Champaign, Rietz said. Those searches turned up items taken in residential burglaries, including three stolen guns.
Of the six charged, the following have been arrested:
— Hall for residential burglary Sept. 11 to a home in the 1000 block of Maple Park Drive, Champaign; burglary Sept. 29 for entering the Walmart in Champaign to use a stolen credit card; unlawful use of a credit card for using a stolen credit card Sept. 29 at the Champaign Walmart; burglary for entering the Savoy Walmart Sept. 30 to use a stolen credit card; attempted use of a stolen credit card for trying to use one Sept. 30 at the Savoy Walmart; and theft for having stolen property at his home Nov. 2.
He is due back in court with an attorney May 30. If convicted of the most serious of the charges — residential burglary — he faces four to 15 years in prison. He's being held on a total of $200,000 bond in the two cases.
— Johnson for residential burglary Sept. 11 to a home in the 1000 block of Maple Park Drive, Champaign; burglary Oct. 29 for entering the Walmart in Champaign intending to use a stolen credit card; unlawful use of credit card for using one at Walmart Oct. 29; three counts of theft on Oct. 30 and Nov. 2 for possessing stolen property; aggravated unlawful use of weapons for possessing three stolen guns on Nov. 2; and possession of a controlled substance for having a small amount of cocaine at his home Nov. 2.
Johnson is due to make a court appearance on those charges Friday afternoon. The most serious of the charges — residential burglary and possession of the stolen guns — carry penalties upon conviction of four to 15 years in prison.
— Yets, 20, who also listed an address on East Main Street, Tolono, was charged with two counts of theft and one count of aggravated unlawful use of weapons for allegedly possessing stolen items, including three guns, in her home Nov. 2, and one count of possession of a controlled substance for allegedly having a small amount of cocaine there that day.
She is due back in court next Friday for a probable-cause hearing. If convicted of the most serious charge — possessing the stolen guns — she faces four to 15 years in prison. She's being held in lieu of $50,000 bond.
— Bradley Keigher, 24, who listed addresses in the 3300 block of Ridgewood Drive and the 100 block of West Washington Street, Champaign, for burglary and unlawful use of a credit card for allegedly entering the Champaign Walmart on Sept. 29 intending to use a stolen credit card and for allegedly buying electronics with it.
His next court date is July 9 and his bond is $25,000.
Warrants are outstanding for two other people believed to have used the stolen credit cards.
Rietz said the cases were somewhat complicated to charge because of the number of people and crimes involved. She credited Rawdin for putting it together and finding some of the people. She said the case remains under investigation.