An ex-gas station employee and his girlfriend are facing felony charges, including lottery fraud, for reportedly stealing more than $13,000 in lottery tickets, cartons of cigarettes and cash from the El Paso Shell before leaving the state.
Warrants were issued this month at the request of the 17th Judicial District Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for Robert Wayne Jones, 36, of El Paso and Rebecca J. Brewer, 41, of Conway on class C felony theft of property and class D felony lottery fraud charges. They each were issued a bond of $20,000, but were not in custody in White County on Wednesday afternoon and no court appearance had been scheduled.
The crime reportedly occurred Jan. 3, 2020. The manager told White County Deputy Derek Warren that Jones had stolen items worth a combined $13,296.53 during his work shift the previous day, according to the affidavit written by Detective Sgt. Josh Biviano.
Security footage reportedly showed Jones stealing the items and Brewer coming to the station and “picking up bags” from him. The station manager told the deputy that Jones did not come back to work and that she believed they had left the state.
Biviano wrote that the stolen tickets were reported to the Arkansas Lottery Commission and flagged to keep any from being redeemed; however, two already had been cashed in – one at the Exxon across the street from where Jones worked and the other at a Walmart in Cabot.
Jones and Brewer reportedly were arrested on unrelated theft charges six months later in Leflore County, Okla. During an interview with Leflore County Sheriff’s Office investigators, both reportedly admitted that they were involved in the gas station theft.
Earlier this month, a class D felony charge of possession of drug paraphernalia with the purpose to inject methamphetamine against Brewer was dismissed in White County Circuit Court at the request of Prosecuting Attorney Becky McCoy due to Brewer being in jail in LeFlore County. A warrant issued last October for failure to appear for the Nov. 20, 2019, offense was recalled.
Also having a charge against him nolle prosequi earlier this month was Blake Anthony Gray, who had been facing class B felony robbery. However, Deputy Prosecutor Norene Smith asked for the dismissal because Gray had pleaded guilty “to federal charges that require a lengthy sentence of incarceration.”
Gray reportedly had flagged down a vehicle on U.S. Highway 67/167 the morning of Nov. 19, 2019, appearing to be injured while in the roadway. However, he “forced his way” into the van and drove off after the driver got out, according to the affidavit written by Detective Cpl. Jeremy L. Bokker of the White County Sheriff’s Office.
He wrecked the vehicle at the 55-mile marker of U.S. 67/167 and “fled into the woods.” Gray was arrested later by White County deputies at a residence on East River Avenue based on information from an informant.
In another theft case, a warrant was issued for Crystal Lynn Sledd, 37, of Searcy on a charge of class C felony theft of property.
Sledd, who reportedly was an employee of One Life Wellness and Primary Care between June 25, 2019, and Oct. 30, 2020, had been found to be “redirecting one-time use credit card payments into her personal business account, ‘Rustic Arrow Design,’ instead of patient care payments,” Searcy Police Department Detective Brian D. Fritts wrote in the affidavit.
An internal audit reportedly showed that Sledd had stolen a total of $14,729.80. The crime was reported to Searcy police last Nov. 5.
On Nov. 19, Sledd was interviewed and reportedly “admitted to using patient health payment information and processing it through personal accounts.” She reportedly said she had “various personal businesses tied to the accounts, with one being Rustic Arrow Designs.”
Sledd reportedly said she was unsure how often she “had processed payments through her accounts” and said the reason she took the funds was “due to being in a financial bind after having her overtime hours taken away by the company.”
Sledd was not in custody in the White County jail Wednesday afternoon and no court appearance had been scheduled.