DOBSON —There are no “ringleaders” among the four Elkin co-defendants implicated in a multi-county theft operation, a prosecutor indicated during a Superior Court bond hearing Tuesday.
During a previous hearing held last week, “Words like that were bandied about,” Assistant District Attorney Mike Beal told the judge, but conversations among investigators had clarified the state’s position.
“All four are considered to be equal participants in this criminal enterprise,” Beal said.
Guillermo Rodriguez, 48; Letonya Ann Sidden, 40; Ashley Nicole Speer, 21; and Christopher Blaine Settle, 24 were arrested in early March and charged with numerous felony violations following a raid of their Pegram Street residence.
Indictments handed down July 5 formally charge each with 15 counts of felony possession of stolen goods or property. In addition to that, they were individually indicted for these violations:
• Settle – two counts of breaking and/or entering, two counts of larceny after breaking and/or entering and three counts of misdemeanor possession of stolen goods or property.
• Sidden – one count each of breaking and/or entering, larceny after breaking and/or entering and obtaining property by false pretense; two counts each of simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance and misdemeanor possession of stolen goods or property.
• Speer – one count each of breaking and/or entering and larceny after breaking and/or entering; two counts of misdemeanor possession of stolen goods.
• Rodriguez – one count each of simple possession of a schedule IV controlled substance, simple possession of a schedule II controlled substance; two counts of misdemeanor possession of stolen goods and/or property.
Sidden, Rodriguez’s wife or long-term girlfriend, remains in the jail under an $85,000 secured bond.
Her daughter and co-defendant, Ashley Speer, 21, bonded out the day the four were arrested.
During the regular term of Superior Court held last week, Presiding Judge Eric Morgan denied a request to reduce Rodriguez’s $125,000 secured bond.
Defense Attorney Marion Boone had argued that Settle’s bonds had been reduced and modified from secured to unsecured, and the defendant had been subsequently released from custody.
The defense and prosecution both noted their understanding that Settle was considered the principal of the operation and Rodriguez a more minor participant.
During the administrative Superior Court session on Tuesday, Beal reiterated that he did not support a bond modification or reduction for any of the co-defendants.
Boone did not reference any kind of hierarchy within the operation, although she did mention Settle’s bond modification.
“I don’t feel that the fact that Mr. Settle’s bond was modified in District Court, evidently without any input from law enforcement, is controllable,” stated Senior Resident Superior Court Judge A. Moses Massey.
Because Rodriquez has no prior criminal record, has lived in the community for 13 years and had been in custody since March, “The court does allow some modification of bond,” Massey said.
The judge said Rodriguez may be released from custody upon posting a $25,000 secured bond and if accepted by the county’s pretrial release program.
Whether the defendant will be accepted into pretrial release was left at the discretion of the program coordinator.
Rodriguez remained in custody as of Thursday, according to information provided by a detention center representative.
Reach Terri Flagg at 415-4734.