(03/05/2008)
By Drew Moody
For the Hur Herald

A Gilmer County grand jury examining charges against John Manis Richards of Grantsville, upped the stakes in the case Tuesday morning.

The three-count indictment relates to a July 2007 theft occurring at the Hardman Home Center in Glenville.

Richards is accused of conspiracy, grand larceny, and breaking and entering.

An arraignment is scheduled for March 11 at 9 a.m.

Following an investigation by Glenville police chief, John Moss, Richards and Jeremy Dilgard, both of Calhoun County, were charged in magistrate court with the break-in and theft.

Police said the pair stole a variety of building materials and tools, then high-jacked one of Hardman's $30,000 delivery trucks to cart the goods away.

Richards avoided the Gilmer County arrest warrants for about six months.

In late December 2007 law enforcement agencies began receiving a series of tips Richards could be in the area.

In early January, Gilmer County Sheriff Mickey Metz arrested Richards near Glenville after the suspect attempted to flee on foot during a routine traffic stop.

The suspect told Metz he was aware of the arrest warrants against him. At the time, he was also "wanted" in Wood County for failing to register as a sex offender.

Despite these circumstances Richards made bail after only 36-hours in custody.

Gilmer County magistrate Bob Minigh apparently concluded Richards was no longer a flight risk, setting bail at only $15,000.

Courts involved in some of Richards' previous criminal cases had set a cash bond as high as $60,000, which he produced.

Richards, age 44, has been accused of - or convicted of numerous charges - including abduction, several indecent exposure charges, and either stealing or receiving stolen property, according to authorities.

In 2003 authorities charged him with receiving $13,000 in stolen property.

Sometime after a 2005 drug arrest he created an "alter-ego" of sorts, claiming to be the "crime fighting" Lone Meth Ranger.

He has also been previously charged with performing sexual acts on himself in front of a teenage girl and her mother at a Reno, Ohio car wash.

Authorities say Richards has a long criminal record spanning several West Virginia counties, as well as various offenses in Ohio.

Richards could face up to 25 years in prison if convicted of the charges pending in Gilmer County Circuit Court.


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