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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Louisiana

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, October 7, 2016

Last of five sentenced to 24 months in prison for role in equipment theft ring

LAKE CHARLES, La. – United States Attorney Stephanie A. Finley announced that the last of five Calcasieu Parish residents was sentenced Thursday to 24 months in prison for conspiring to steal yard equipment worth more than $190,000 from owners living in south central and southwest Louisiana.

Kevin Henry, 44, of Lake Charles, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patricia Minaldi on one count of conspiracy to commit transportation of stolen motor vehicles. He was sentenced to three years of supervised release and also ordered to pay $78,513 restitution.

The other defendants were also previously sentenced on one count of conspiracy to commit transportation of stolen motor vehicles. They are:

Melvin Simien III, 34, of Iowa, La., was sentenced April 4, 2013 to 33 months in prison with three years of supervised release. He was ordered to pay $78,513 restitution and complete 50 hours of community service.                                                                                

Robert Jordan Handy, 26, of Lake Charles, was sentenced April 4, 2013 to 30 months in prison with three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to pay $78,513 restitution.

Donald James Odia Ellis, 25, of Lake Charles, was sentenced April 4, 2013 to six months in prison with three years of supervised release. He was also ordered to complete 50 hours of community service.

Paula Garrick, 46, of Iowa, was sentenced March 7, 2013 to one year of unsupervised probation.

According to the January 3, 2013 guilty plea, Henry initiated the illegal operation by asking Handy to steal lawn mowers and other types of yard equipment. Handy would then ask others to help him steal equipment. Handy would pay those involved for their help and then sell the equipment to Henry who later sold the equipment in Louisiana and Texas. Henry bought newspapers ads in Dallas and Baton Rouge to sell the stolen items.

In one instance, a Louisiana state trooper stopped a GMC Yukon sports utility vehicle(SUV) Sept. 29, 2009 on Interstate 49 in St. Landry Parish that had been pulling a utility trailer containing three zero-turn radius lawn mowers.  A car, driven by Garrick, was observed following the trailer and had flashed its headlights as the trooper approached. After stopping the SUV and trailer, the trooper found Simien and Ellis. During the examination of the SUV and trailer, Simien and Ellis fled the scene. They were later apprehended.

Law enforcement determined that two lawn mowers in the trailer were stolen from a dealership in Opelousas, La., and one was stolen from a private residence in Duson, La.  The trailer holding the lawn mowers was stolen from a dealership in Duson.   

The FBI and Louisiana State Police investigated the case.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kelly P. Uebinger prosecuted the case.

Updated October 7, 2016