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Skimmer-Scammers And Cell Tower Scrappers

Four Charged With Felonies

By Alex Haglund

“There’s been two big crime sprees that have been going on,” State’s Attorney Dan Bronke told the Washington County Board at their regular meeting held on Tuesday, April 10.
The first type of crime that the county had seen arrests for was suspects who were operating card skimmers at area gas stations

Ernesto O. Martinez, 20, of Louisville, Ky.

Yosvanis Napoles-Leon, 44, of Louisville, Ky.

Ernesto O. Martinez, 20, of Louisville, Ky., and Yosvanis Napoles-Leon, 44, also of Louisville, Ky., were each charged with unlawful use of a scanning device, identity theft, and use of a forged debit or credit card – all class four felonies.
Bronke alleged that the pair were operating the skimmers, devices that electronically copy credit or debit card information, at Circle K Stations in both Nashville and Okawville.
Bronke also stated that the pair had been caught because employees at the Circle K stations had noticed the same vehicle returning at the same time weekly and alerted law enforcement who made the arrests.
The second type of crime Bronke described to the board was the theft of copper to sell for scrap. Unlike other scrap thefts though, this type did not take place at a residence, farm or conventional business location, but instead was from a cell phone tower.

Taylor James, 19, of Collinsville.

Haley Suhling, 20, of Collinsville.

On April 3, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Taylor James, 19, of Collinsville, and Haley Suhling, 20, of Collinsville, both charged with criminal damage from $10,000-$100,000, a class three felony, possession of burglary tools, a class four felony, and theft under $500, a class A misdemeanor, after they allegedly took copper from a cell phone tower along County Highway 27.
Bronke stated, “it doesn’t seem like much, because it’s from a big corporation that eventually just passes it down to the consumer.”
The state’s attorney continued, adding that it could have serious repercussions for local residents because the theft of metal could degrade the reception to and from the tower.
Worse, a safety issue could arise should 911 or emergency calls be routed through the same tower.
In addition to speaking to the board about these crimes, Bronke also gave the board a report of fees collected and paid through his department during the month of March.
In the State’s Attorney’s General Fund, $885.55 was collected for the month. In the department’s drug prevention fund, $87.25 was collected, and in the Automation fund, $304 was collected.

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