On Dec. 16, Alan Wesley Anderson, 24, of Portsmouth, Michael Adam Swords, 24, of Lucasville and Christopher M. Anderson, 21, of Portsmouth were indicted by the Scioto County grand jury on multiple charges including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, also known as a “RICO” violation. They are currently in the Scioto County Jail.
“It's a RICO case because we feel the three individuals were organized in what they did, rather than just random felony crimes,” Scioto County Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said. “They targeted homes with ATVs and people they felt were vulnerable. We feel these are three of the individuals who were most involved.”
Kuhn said the allegations against the three stem from a rash of ATV thefts and home break-ins in October. They were investigated by Scioto County Sheriff Detective Denver Triggs with the cooperation of several local law enforcement agencies including the FBI, the state patrol and sheriff's offices in Ohio and Kentucky.
Triggs said that at one point the sheriff's office was getting two or three reports a night about stolen ATVs.
“We figured that because of the number, it was probably the same suspects,” he said. “The methods were the same - how they broke locks, how they would knock pins out of garage doors and that kind of thing.”
Triggs said the break in the case came on Oct. 23 when an Ohio State Highway Patrol trooper in Gallia County stopped a vehicle and found a large amount of drugs. After getting a search warrant, the trooper found two stolen ATVs. After further investigation, six more four-wheelers were found that led back to Scioto County and the Andersons and Swords. Other stolen ATVs were found in Lewis County, Ky., Lawrence County and even in Portsmouth. Some of the ATVs were stolen as long ago as 2003, although most of the vehicles were reported stolen in the last three months.
Alan Wesley Anderson was charged with 13 counts, including: engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to burglary, burglary, theft from the elderly, safecracking, theft of a motor vehicle, theft and five counts of receiving stolen property (motor vehicle.)
Swords and Christopher M. Anderson were each charged with seven counts, including: engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to engage in a pattern of corrupt activity, conspiracy to burglary, burglary, theft from the elderly, safecracking and receiving stolen property (motor vehicle.)
Because the men are charged with being part of an organized crime ring of three or more people, they could face a heavier penalty during trial.
The defendants will be arraigned in the Scioto County Common Pleas Court at a later date.
The investigation continues, and Triggs and Kuhn both said they expect more arrests. Anyone with information about this case can call Triggs at (740) 355-8245.
MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.