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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, July 20, 2015

Tennessee Man Sentenced for Stealing Government Property

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Laurel Bloomery, Tenn. man, who pled guilty to a pair of counts related to the theft of government equipment, was sentenced today in the United States District Court of the Western District of Virginia in Abingdon.

John Riley Morefield, 33, of Laurel Bloomery, Tenn., previously pled guilty to one count of aiding and abetting the possession, concealment and storage of a motor vehicle which had cross state lines after being stolen and one count of stealing two government license plates from a Department of Agriculture vehicle. Today in District Court, Morefield was sentenced to eight months imprisonment.

According to evidence presented at previous hearings by Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst, on August 25, 2014, a contractor’s backhoe, valued at $31,915, was stolen from the Virginia Creeper Trail in the Jefferson National Forest in Washington County. Approximately one month later the backhoe was recovered from property near Morefield’s residence in Tennessee. When approached, Morefield admitted to officers that the backhoe was there and he showed them where it had been hidden in the woods and covered with fresh cut pine trees. Morefield stated that the backhoe had been stolen by an acquaintance.

While on the property, officers also recovered two stolen US government license plates, which had been taken from a bulldozer owned by the United States Forest Service at the Mount Rogers Ranger District of the Jefferson National Forest in Virginia. Morefield admitted to taking the license plates.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Washington County, Virginia Sheriff’s Office, the Johnson County, Tennessee Sheriff’s Office, and the United States Forest Service.  Assistant United States Attorney Jennifer Bockhorst prosecuted the case for the United States.

Updated February 4, 2016