Four Men Plead Guilty to JCC Car Break-Ins

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From left to right: Austin Peterson, Christian Bearisto, Aaron Lee, David Hartman (Courtesy James City County Police.)
From left to right: Austin Peterson, Christian Bearisto, Aaron Lee, David Hartman (Courtesy James City County Police)

Four men accepted plea deals Friday in connection to a string of car break-ins a prosecutor said victimized up to 100 people last fall.

Aaron Scott Lee, David Hartman, Austin Peterson and Terrence Terrell White all pleaded guilty to felony charges in Williamsburg-James City County Circuit Court.

The group stole jewelry, firearms, cash and a camera from cars in James City County neighborhoods between July 30 and Sept. 11.

The quartet was arrested along with another man, Christian Bearisto, at the end of September and early October. Bearisto pleaded guilty in March to pawning several of the stolen items. He will be sentenced in June.

Lee faced the most charges out of the group in court on Friday. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts of theft of a firearm and one felony count of possessing a firearm as a convicted felon. Williamsburg James City County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Cathy Black told the court Lee has a robbery conviction from when he was a juvenile.

The plea deal also requires him to pay restitution of at least $2,318.42 to the victims of the thefts. Black said photos of the stolen firearms were found on Lee’s phone.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, three felony charges of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and two other counts of theft of a firearm were all dropped. He will be sentenced on the three felonies at 9 a.m. Sept. 2.

Terrence Terrell White (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)
Terrence Terrell White (Courtesy Virginia Peninsula Regional Jail)

Peterson pleaded guilty to a grand larceny charge and agreed to pay the same restitution as Lee. In exchange, a conspiracy to commit grand larceny charge was dropped. He will be sentenced at 9 a.m. Aug. 19.

Hartman entered a plea of no contest to a grand larceny charge. He will have his charge reduced to a misdemeanor if he remains in good behavior for the rest of the year.

White pleaded guilty to theft of a firearm charge. He will be sentenced at 9 a.m. July 22.

Both men must also pay the same restitution as their counterparts.

The thefts affected the neighborhoods of Scott’s Pond, Kingsmill, St. George’s Hundred, Stonehouse, Greensprings West, Windsor Forest, Williamsburg West, Settler’s Mill, Great Woods, Wellington, Fenwick Hills and Graylin Woods.

Investigators caught a break in the case after a resident of St. George’s Hundred saw two people stealing items from vehicles on Wellington Circle early on Sept. 11. That man chased the two people on foot and got a partial license plate number from a nearby vehicle.

Police found the vehicle later that day and questioned two people inside before releasing them. That interview gave police enough information to charge Peterson, Bearisto, Lee and Hartman. White was arrested a short time later.

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