Charges Filed in Branch Co. Against Alleged Member of Michindoh Car Theft Ring

by Josh Colletta

A Kendallville man has been arrested in connection with a series of motor vehicle thefts that took place across the Michindoh area last year.

21-year-old Justin Easterday was arraigned in Branch County District Court on Friday following a Michigan State Police investigation into the thefts, according to the Daily Reporter, WTVB and WLKI.

Easterday is accused of receiving a Ford Taurus and G.M.C. Yukon in late August. He also conspired to enact two other thefts. All of them occurred at a home in the Bronson area, which was confirmed by security video. He’s being charged with four counts of receiving and concealing motor vehicles, each a five-year felony.

Easterday had also allegedly found a checkbook left in one of the vehicles by its rightful owner, and filled out some checks made out to himself, forging the owner’s name on them.

Easterday’s bond has been set at $100,000, with Judge David Coyle noting that the suspect has a 2019 meth possession conviction on his record from LaGrange County. He’s scheduled for a probable cause hearing on June 30th and a preliminary exam on July 7th.

Court documents say the other co-conspirators were Chad Hankins, Austin McCarty, Hope Rowlison, and Candy Brockhaus. They formed one of two groups that police say were stealing vehicles — mostly to use them for joy rides, after which the thieves would simply abandon those vehicles.

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