The second of two local teens accused of breaking into a Salem Township home and stealing several items pleaded guilty Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to burglary.
Branden D. Ramage, 19, of 206 Jennison St., Beverly, pleaded guilty to a bill of information charging a third-degree felony count of burglary for breaking into a home on Germantown Road on April 10.
Ramage and another teen-18-year-old Kyle D. Hesson, of Whipple-used a tire tool to force their way into the home, presumably in order to steal to support a drug habit, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings. Shortly after the burglary, an investigator found that Ramage had pawned two wedding rings at a Belpre pawn shop.
"Someone had forced entry into (the house) and stolen several gold necklaces, a coin machine with about $35 in change and a Black and Decker jigsaw," said Rings.
Ramage and Hesson were developed as suspects in the case, and an investigator made inquiries into the two men's recent activities at area pawn shops.
"The owner (of Bill's Coin and Jewelry Shop in Belpre) showed a sales receipt that Branden Ramage had sold two 14-carat gold wedding bands," said Rings.
The victim confirmed that the wedding bands were also among those items stolen.
On April 15, Ramage returned to the shop to pawn more items. Deputies responded and questioned Ramage and Hesson separately. Hesson consented to have his vehicle searched and eight necklaces, coin wrappers, a stolen camera, marijuana paraphernalia, and the box for the jigsaw was recovered. Hesson told deputies that the jigsaw had been sold at Rinky Dink Flea Market.
Both Hesson and Ramage admitted to being at the scene of the crime when it occurred. However, each pointed to the other as the main culprit in the crime, said Rings. But evidence proved that each was involved in the break-in, he said. Fingerprints on the door of the burglarized home were matched with Hesson. Meanwhile, Ramage was responsible for selling the stolen goods.
Both men were charged with a second-degree felony count of burglary and a third-degree felony count of possession of criminal tools for use of the tire tool used in the burglary. Both men were given the same plea agreement and allowed to plead guilty to a third-degree felony count of burglary in exchange for the reduction of the burglary charge and the dismissal of the criminal tools charge.
Hesson pleaded guilty to the third-degree felony burglary charge June 4.
After Rings' request, Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane continued the $35,000 bond that had been set for Ramage when Marietta Municipal Court bound over the case.
"I believe the defendant and his co-defendant have substance abuse problems," said Rings, arguing for a cash bond. "I believe that is an unaddressed problem for both Mr. Ramage and Mr. Hesson."
Ramage's sentencing is set for July 31 at 8 a.m. He faces a maximum three years of prison on the charge.