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Alleged burglar in court Monday

by Andy Bourelle

The man who allegedly burglarized two businesses at the Industrial Park in Gardnerville will be arraigned in Douglas County District Court Monday.

Robert W. Neese, 31, of the Gardnerville Ranchos appeared in East Fork Justice Court Feb. 5 for a preliminary hearing. After 3-1/2 hours and the testimony of more than 10 witnesses, Justice Jim EnEarl ruled there was enough probable cause to bind the case over to district court.

Neese faced eight felony charges, but Deputy District Attorney Tom Perkins moved to dismiss four of them at the beginning of the proceedings. Neese still faces two counts of burglary and two counts of possessing or receiving stolen property, all felonies.

Neese, whose parents own a shop in the Industrial Park, allegedly burglarized Warren’s Inland Marine and Evergreen Electronics over the Thanksgiving 1997 weekend. Afterward, Neese, with the help of Mitchell C. Swift, 36, allegedly stored the stolen property at several acquaintances’ homes in the Gardnerville Ranchos, attempting to sell the items.

Swift was arrested Dec. 12 along with Catherine A. Pickard, 49, during an alleged attempted sale of stolen property, including computers from Evergreen Electronics. The two, both from the Ranchos, were charged with possessing or receiving stolen property. Neese was arrested Jan. 9. Two others were arrested in January and have been charged with possessing stolen property in connection with the burglaries: Gregg A. Dolgin, 36, and Lori L. Taylor, 39, both of the Ranchos.

The Douglas County Sheriff’s Office recovered more than half of the stolen items from the burglaries and other reported Industrial Park break-ins, amounting to more than $30,000 in property. Computers, TVs, VCRs, wetsuits, tools and an automobile were recovered.

Swift, who is currently in custody, testified in court Thursday that Neese had admitted to him he had stolen the items from businesses in the Industrial Park. Swift denied any involvement in the break-ins.

“I never participated in any of the burglaries,” Swift said.

Other testimony came from various involved parties, including victims, investigators and the people who owned the homes where the items were allegedly stored.

DCSO Investigator Rick Brown, who spearheaded the investigation, testified investigators set up surveillance at various locations where stolen property was reportedly hidden, after receiving a tip from Douglas County Secret Witness.

In his closing argument, Larry Lozensky, Neese’s attorney, said there was not enough evidence to bind the burglary charges over to District Court. With the exception of shoe prints at the scene which could not be confirmed as Neese’s, Lozensky said Swift’s testimony was the only information which said Neese committed the break-ins. Lozensky said Swift could have been the one to commit them.

While making his ruling, EnEarl explained the prosecution had only to show there was probable cause to bind the case over to district court, not that Neese was guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Swift was a “common theme” in the witnesses’ testimony, EnEarl said, but not to the extent that Neese was.

Neese is scheduled to appear Feb. 9 for arraignment, before District Judge Michael Gibbons. He remains in custody on $100,000 bail.

Swift also is scheduled for arraignment Feb. 9 in District Court, planning to plead guilty to one felony count of possessing stolen property. He remains in custody.

Pickard is scheduled to appear in District Court before Judge Dave Gamble March 3 for sentencing. She has pleaded guilty to one felony count of possessing stolen property. She had allegedly stolen property from Bently Nevada Corp. while employed there in 1997. With the guilty admission, the charges in connection with the Industrial Park burglaries, along with several other drug-related charges, were dropped.

Taylor, also allegedly involved with Pickard’s possession of the Bently Nevada items, is scheduled to appear for a pre-preliminary hearing in Justice Court Feb. 11.

Dolgin, who testified Thursday, also appeared in Justice Court Wednesday afternoon for a pre-trial conference concerning his charge. Through a plea negotiation, Dolgin’s case will be bound over to district court, where he plans to plead guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of possessing stolen property. He is scheduled to appear Feb. 17 before Judge Dave Gamble.

Pickard, Taylor and Dolgin are out of custody.

The Record-Courier E-mail: rc@tahoe.com

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