Muskingum County Prosecutor
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 5, 2023
Jury convicts woman for part in regional theft scheme
After three days of trial led by Muskingum County Assistant Prosecutor Molly Martin, jurors returned 41 guilty verdicts against Juliana Washington, one of several participants in a regional theft ring.
The four co-conspirators first caught the attention of local law enforcement in late January five women at a yoga studio reported to the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office that their cars were broken into and purses were stolen. Those purses contained identification cards, credit cards and checkbooks.
Minutes later, deputies were called to a gymnastics gym for an additional report of a vehicle break-in.
Around the same time of those incidents, the Zanesville Police Department and Perry County Sheriff’s Office also took similar reports of smash and grabs in the parking lots of fitness businesses.
Investigators learned of further thefts from vehicles throughout the state, specifically in West Chester and Twinsburg.
The conspirators used rental cars with fake plates to drive to banks and impersonate one theft victim while cashing a fraudulent check from another victim. The conspirators went as far as wearing wigs to commit their crimes.
The conspirators cashed checks at several banks throughout the state, but made their ultimate mistake in Zanesville when attempting to cash a stolen check at The Community Bank with a former employee as the victim. Employees did not recognize the woman trying to cash the check, did not authorize the transaction and called 911.
A deputy patrolling the area near the I-70 west ramp on West Pike spotted the suspect vehicle as it entered the interstate. The driver fled from the deputy at speeds exceeding 115 miles per hour. The car came to a rest after weaving through traffic, striking a semi-truck and crashing into the median.
The driver, identified as Malissa Young, was injured in the crash and treated at Genesis. Young quickly confessed to her part in the scheme.
The lead conspirator and the trial defendant, Washington, followed Young to the bank when she went to cash the check, and made sure she was on the phone with them as she made the transaction.
During a separate instance involving another woman to cash the checks, the conspirators brutally assaulted the woman when she changed her mind about helping them commit the crime.
After the failed attempt at The Community Bank in Zanesville, the lead conspirator remained on the phone with Young as she was followed by law enforcement.
Young explained that she wanted to pull over for the deputy, but Washington and the lead conspirator told her to take off when the deputy approached her car.
Detective Sergeant Brady Hittle of the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office obtained historical cell tower records belonging to the suspects’ phone numbers to trace each vehicle theft and each cash checking stop.
The advanced detective work displayed by Hittle allowed for first-degree felony charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity to be filed against three of the four conspirators involved.
The strong investigation, coupled with a thorough prosecution by Assistant Prosecutor Molly Martin, resulted in the conviction of Washington on dozens of counts of theft and fraud, in addition to the engaging charge.
Young previously pleaded guilty to one first–degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
Anthony Webb, who played a minor role in the conspiracy, pleaded guilty to one fourth-degree felony count of grand theft of a motor vehicle and one fourth-degree felony count of identity fraud.
The leader of the conspiracy ring still awaits trial.
At sentencing, Washington faces a maximum prison sentence of 57 years.
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