Home Law and Courts $140K of stolen property recovered

$140K of stolen property recovered

19 min read

Gabrielle Arsiaga/News-Sun

Two people from Eunice were arrested, and a warrant was issued for a Serafina woman after more than $140,000 worth of tools, equipment, and motor vehicles from various locations went missing and after investigations by the Eunice Police Department and the Lea County Sheriff’s Office.

Michael Corbell, 31, of Eunice, was arrested on June 7 and charged with aggravated burglary, larceny over $20,000, receiving stolen property over $20,000, all second-degree felonies; conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary conspiracy to commit larceny, and tampering with evidence, all third-degree felonies; three counts of unlawful taking of a motor vehicle and three counts of conspiracy to commit unlawful taking of a motor vehicle, all third-degree felonies; and resisting evading or obstructing an officer, a misdemeanor.

Zac Woodell, 43, of Eunice, was arrested on June 10 and charged with aggravated burglary, larceny over $20,000, and receiving stolen property over $20,000, both second-degree felonies; conspiracy to commit aggravated burglary, conspiracy to commit larceny, and tampering with evidence, all third-degree felonies.

July Smith, 31, of Serafina, was issued a warrant for her arrest on June 9 for the charge of receiving or transferring stolen motor vehicles, a fourth-degree felony.

According to a Lea County Sheriff’s Office report, a homeowner in Eunice reported an aggravated burglary in the 1600 block of West Texas Avenue while he was away.

The homeowner stated he had been out of town and when he returned he noticed several items missing from his shop — a 2015 Dodge Ram 3500 pickup with an overhead camper, a 2019 Yamaha Moped, 2014 Polaris ATV, multiple firearms, tools, and equipment.

While on scene, deputies noticed tracks from one of the ATVs leading to a home on Avenue I — the home of Zac Woodell and July Smith.

Woodell told deputies a neighbor had called him on March 4 and told him she saw Smith driving a Polaris ATV into Woodell’s backyard and hit a trailer. Woodell said the next morning he was looking at social media and noticed the Polaris being listed as stolen.

“Zac also advised Mikey and April Gresham had been driving around the Yamaha Zuma moped throughout the week. He stated that Michael told him his brother had given it to him so he didn’t think anything of it until he seen the Facebook post,” the criminal complaint stated.

Later that day, deputies went to the 800 block of 19th Street in Eunice and recovered the majority of the stolen items.

The remaining items were found in Hobbs on the 1100 block of South Ward Street. While there, deputies saw Woodell exiting the camper which had been removed from the top of the stolen truck.

Corbell, who was also exiting the camper, immediately ran from deputies while an unidentified female was detained.

The female allegedly told deputies Corbell picked her up in the stolen truck.

“She stated that Michael had picked her up in the truck (with camper attached) yesterday from Zac’s and then went to Hobbs. She stated Michael had set the camper up there and she denied being on the moped with Michael but did place herself at Zac’s this week and stated they were both with July,” the criminal complaint stated.

Inside of the stolen pickup’s camper, deputies found a key to the moped inside of the unidentified woman’s bag.

They also found burglary tools, two boxes of .22 caliber ammunition, narcotic paraphernalia, several food items indicating the duo had been living inside of the camper, and a black .22 rifle.

Woodell told deputies he went to the camper to try to get Corbell to turn himself or the truck in and see if he had any pills, the LCSO report stated.

“Zac stated that Michael told him he planned on taking the truck to El Paso and exchanging it for $40,000 dollars and a kilo of fentanyl pills. He stated Michael bragged about staying at the shop for days and that no one would noticed the items missing from there. Zac stated he had been out of town on Friday when July showed up on the Polaris,” the criminal complaint stated. “He stated that July asked him if Michael had come by the house because he was in a ‘badass’ Dodge pickup.”

On March 10, deputies interviewed a woman whom they believed to be involved in the case. She told them she saw Smith driving the Polaris into the backyard of the Hobbs home Friday night and saw Corbell and another woman carrying totes and boxes into the backyard.

She said Corbell told her he got the moped from his brother.

According to the criminal complaint, deputies obtained a warrant for Corbell, Smith’s, Woodell’s, and April Gresham’s — a person LCSO deputies believe is involved with the case, but has yet to be charged — social media accounts.

“Upon search of their accounts, (deputies) found that on separate dates, to several people, Zac sent stock photos of a Hobart IronMan Welder, verified by the victim to be similar to theirs, to sell in exchange for $500. Zac had several conversations with people where he expresses how much he needs only and pills. Zac had a conversation with July on March 4 where Zac speaks about police going to recover the items from his house and told July ‘…if they get the truck that there won’t be any charges filed’ and talks about Michael taking off to El Paso,” the criminal complaint states.

Cordell’s social media account’s messages revealed him sending photos of a generator to someone, arranged to meet, and sell it. The victim also verified the generator as theirs.

“Michael messaged a ‘Baeza’ on March 2 regarding a few guns and a bunch of new tools. On March 5 he asked if anyone wanted to buy some tools and a brand new welder,” the criminal complaint states.

Woodell was interviewed by deputies a second time and he said Cordell had the moped at his house since around Feb. 28.

“(Deputies) showed him the picture of the welder he had sent to his friends…he initially stated that (a female) used his phone to sell those items… he (changed his story) and said his wife was selling them and he stated he legally couldn’t testify against her,” the criminal complaint stated.

On June 7, Cordell was interviewed by deputies.

“Michael said he planned on returning (the stolen items),” the criminal complaint stated. “(Deputies) asked how they got all of the stuff out of the shop and he stated Zac pulled the truck to the shop…he said (the reason for him stealing all of the items was because the victim) had screwed him over in the past over a house he was trying to buy. Michael said he was walking by the shop and tried to open the front door and it was unlocked. He stated he gained entry at the front door, then went to Zac’s house and told them about it. Michael stated that he, Zac, and July went back to the shop and stole the items from within.”

According to Cordell, Wood-ell loaded the majority of the stolen equipment onto the bed of his truck, and Smith drove the Polaris out of the shop. He admitted to taking the firearm located inside of the Polaris and also driving the Dodge Ram pickup off of the property, the report said.

Smith currently has a warrant out for her arrest. As of press time, she has not been arrested.

Woodell, was released on June 16, and is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on July 15 before Magistrate James Jones.

Corbell was released on June 15 on a $13,000 was bond, a 10 percent cash bond of $1,000, and a secured bond of $10,000. He is scheduled for a preliminary examination before Magistrate James Jones on June 22.

In another incident involving Corbell in April, according to the LCSO report, investigators were dispatched to the 1300 block of West Florida Avenue in Hobbs in reference to a residential burglary.

At the property, investigators met with the owners of the property who said they had video surveillance footage showing the theft.

“A Gold/Brown Chevy Trail Blazer and Gold Ford Taurus station wagon arrived at the residence during different time frames April 4 and April 5,” the LCSO report stated. “The gold ford Taurus arrived at the residence on April 5 at 1:44 a.m. The vehicle is observed entering the property through the southwest area of the property.

“The Gold Ford Taurus passed by the residence on April 3, 2022 two times. At 11:06 p.m. and at 12:51 p.m.”

A Polaris ATV was removed from the property along with an two air compressors, three welders, a recovery machine, cutting torch oxygen bottles, and several miscellaneous tools.

On April 6, at 1:05 a.m. deputies saw the Taurus driving in the area of Florida. Before deputies could pull the vehicle over, it turned onto Valdez, turned its lights off, and the driver and passenger exited the vehicle with it still running.

The driver was identified as Corbell and the passenger as April Gresham.

Investigators interviewed Corbell who admitted to taking the items on West Florida Avenue. He said he took the items was “for safe keeping since people were burglarizing the property.”

Corbell also told deputies he currently resides on Valdez.

Investigators Corbell’s property and found a Polaris ATV and several tools, all of which were valued at $5,000.

On April 10, the owners of the property on W. Florida contacted investigators about locating several items she believed were stolen from the property and being sold on Facebook.

In the photos posted on social media, a shopvac, an electric plasma cutter, welder, and air compressor were sale.

“(The duo) stated the ‘Javier’ was trying to sell them a white enclosed trailer for $3,000. (The duo) stated Javier stated he had the paperwork for the trailer,” the criminal complaint states.

Corbell was released on June 3 on a 10 percent cash bond of $2,500.

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