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Five plead not guilty in plot to steal from Jackson County Fair

A botched fake mugging and a broken truck foiled a plot to steal more than $15,000 in cash and unsold tickets from the Jackson County Fair this summer.

Five people face felony theft and conspiracy charges for their part in the scheme, according to Jackson County sheriff's spokeswoman Andrea Carlson.

"This didn't go as planned for these suspects," Carlson said.

The plot started with Sierra Michelle Johnson, 19, and Sarah Christina Kinnaman, 18, both of the 3700 block of Falcon Street, White City, getting jobs at the fair's ticket counter.

The job entails handling thousands of dollars and tickets, which can be resold for cash, and requires employees to make nightly money drops after the counter closes.

On July 20, Johnson was on her way to a trailer where the drops are made. In her possession was $1,900 in cash and $15,000 in unsold ride and game tickets. She allegedly reported being mugged while en route to the trailer, and Jackson County sheriff's deputies were called to investigate.

It did not take long for deputies to poke holes in her story, Carlson said.

"She admitted that it was fake and that she intended to steal the money," Carlson said.

Johnson allegedly handed the money to Kinnaman inside a bathroom stall at the fairgrounds before making her way toward the trailer.

The plan was then for Kinnaman to delivery the money and tickets to Johnson's boyfriend, Douglas Arthur Hackett, 24, of the 3600 block of Avenue G, White City. Hackett was then to drive the money to a place where the crews could split it up and walk away with the proceeds.

Unfortunately, Hackett's truck broke down on the fairgrounds and the crew lost their getaway ride, Carlson said.

The loot eventually ended up in the hands of coconspirators Angelica Alexis Fletes, 24, and James Vincent Barnes, 23, both of the 500 block of Platt Place in Eagle Point. They took the money and tickets, which they had stashed in a backpack, and headed down to the Burger King near the fairgrounds.

By this time, Johnson and Hackett had admitted to the scheme and had contacted Fletes and Barnes, instructing them to come back to the fair with the take.

The pair refused to journey back to the fairgrounds but agreed to drop the items in a trash can inside the Burger King, Carlson said.

"The deputies then recovered the items in the trash," Carlson said.

All five were cited to appear in Jackson County Circuit Court on first-degree aggravated theft, first-degree theft and conspiracy to commit first-degree theft.

They made their initial appearance in court on Nov. 14, where each pleaded not guilty to all counts, records show.

The maximum penalty for first-degree aggravated theft is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4471; or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.