ELKTON — A man has received a five-year prison term for his role in what investigators described as an “organized burglary crew’ that targeted vacant and unoccupied Cecil County homes over several months last year.
In March, as part of a plea agreement, the defendant, Joshua Robert Evans, 26, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to numerous charges in five separate cases relating to his activity in the burglary ring and, in exchange, prosecutors dismissed several lesser charges.
Cecil County Circuit Court Administrative Judge Keith A. Baynes imposed a 20-year sentence on Evans for conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary during an Aug. 7 proceeding and then suspended 15 years of it.
The judge also levied concurrent five year sentences for first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary and theft scheme of more than $1,500 and less than $25,000. In addition, the judge imposed a suspended 10-year sentence on Evans for conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary.
Evans will serve his five-year term in a Maryland Department of Corrections prison.
A Cecil County grand jury handed up multiple-count indictments against Evans and his four accomplices on Nov. 28, after a four-month-long investigation by Maryland State Police and the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office.
The joint-investigation started in August, after MSP detectives had noticed “a pattern of similar burglaries and thefts” in Cecil County, Sgt. Steven Juergens, supervisor of the MSP’s Northern Region Criminal Enforcement Division, told the Cecil Whig in December.
“The investigation revealed that an organized burglary crew had committed numerous burglaries of vacant or unoccupied dwellings and storehouses,” Juergens said, adding that MSP joined forces with CCSO detectives shortly after launching the investigation.
Police reported that the suspects stole “tens of thousands of dollars worth of metal from these places and scrapped them” and that the burglary ring members were selective.
“The group targeted residences that appeared unoccupied during the day. The suspects are believed to be deterred by residences with video surveillance systems and other security measures,” Juergens outlined shortly after investigators had arrested the suspects.
Evans’ four co-defendants — North East residents Matthew Anders, 40; Brandon Johnson, 36; Aaron Reynolds, 28 and Kevin Sheffield, 44 — were sentenced earlier this year after they, too, accepted plea deals in which lesser charges were dropped in exchange for their guilty pleas.
Anders received a two-year prison term, which will be followed by three years of supervised probation. The judge imposed five concurrent 10-year sentences on Anders and suspended eight years on each for first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit first-degree burglary, conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary and two counts of second-degree burglary. He also received a suspended six-month sentence for theft.
Johnson received an eight-year prison, which also will be followed by three years of supervised probation. The judge imposed a 20-year sentence on Johnson for first-degree burglary and then suspended 12 years of it. In addition, the judge levied three suspended 12-year sentences, all concurrent, as well as a concurrent six-month sentence for theft.
Reynolds received an 18-month jail term, to be followed by two years of supervised probation. Specifically, he received a six-year sentence with all but 18 months suspended for conspiracy to commit second-degree burglary. He also received two suspended sentences of five and six years for theft of more than $1,500 and less than $25,000 and for second-degree burglary respectively.
Sheffield received a two-year prison term, also followed by three years of supervised probation. The judge imposed a 20-year sentence on Sheffield for first-degree burglary and then suspended 18 years of it.
Assistant State’s Attorney Nancy Olin prosecuted all five defendants in the burglary ring case.