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A Williamsburg man pleaded guilty in York-Poquoson Circuit Court on Thursday to a misdemeanor count of unauthorized use of a motor vehicle stemming from the temporary disappearance of a $40,000 piece of construction equipment.
Stuart Ronald Usher was arrested in Oct. 2014 and accused of stealing a Caterpillar mini-excavator from a York County work site almost a year prior.
The excavator was recovered deep in the woods of Matthews County several weeks after it was reported stolen and eventually traced back to Usher, its previous owner.
Usher purchased the vehicle in 2006 for use in an earth-moving project, but by 2009 he had defaulted on it and he abandoned it at a construction site shortly thereafter.
Though the builder associated with the site claimed he tried to contact Usher multiple times to come retrieve the excavator, he was unsuccessful in getting in touch with Usher and ultimately had the vehicle towed away to a junkyard.
From there, the excavator was purchased by a York County man for use in his landscaping business and it was in his possession when Usher took the vehicle in November 2013.
While Caterpillar’s financing records for the excavator were still in Usher’s name, there is no title for the equipment and the man who reported it stolen was able to produce paperwork showing he had legally purchased it from the junkyard.
Usher entered into a plea agreement with the prosecution that saw the grand larceny charge he originally faced reduced to a misdemeanor unauthorized use of a motor vehicle charge.
Though Usher entered a guilty plea, as part of the plea deal Judge Richard Rizk agreed to withhold a finding of guilt for a period of three years, at which time if Usher has no further trouble with the law the charge will be reduced to misdemeanor trespassing. He will not serve jail time.
In the intervening three years Usher will remain on probation and be expected to pay back as-of-yet undetermined court costs at the rate of $100 per month.