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Iced tea leads to arrests in copper case

By Tracy Neal

October 26, 2012

BENTONVILLE – A gallon of Red Diamond iced tea led Rogers Police to arrest five people in connection with causing damages and stealing copper wire valued at more than $900,000 this summer.

Daniel Ray Hutchek is charged with theft by receiving, a Class B felony punishable with a prison sentence ranging from five to 20 years.

Hutchek, 32, of Pea Ridge appeared in court Thursday morning for a bond hearing. His attorney, however, withdrew a request to reduce Hutchek's $50,000 bond.

Rogers District Judge Brad Karren, sitting in for Circuit Judge Jon Comstock, granted a motion from prosecutors to obtain a sample of Hutchek's saliva.

Danielle Marie Corshia, Natalie Louise Earnest, Chatwin Earnest and Stormie Castleman also were arrested in connection with the stolen copper. Prosecutors haven't filed any formal charges against Corshia and Chatwin Earnest. Castleman's case was remanded to district court. Natalie Earnest is charged with theft by receiving, a Class D felony punishable with up to six years in prison.

The case stems from a July 31 police report concerning a commercial burglary at Strateline Industries at 400 W. New Hope Road. The business caretaker discovered the building had been broken into, damage had been done and a large amount of copper wire and cable had been stolen, according to court documents.

Police discovered multiple items in the business that didn't belong there including a jug of sweet tea, according to court documents. The tea jug was in the electrical room where most of the copper wire had been removed, according to court documents.

Dustin Musteen, Rogers Police detective, recorded the UPC codes for the tea and a jug of water also found at the scene, then went to the Walmart Neighborhood Market on South Eighth Street and was able to learn the items were sold there, according to court documents. Musteen also was able to obtain a video of a red-headed male leaving the store in a white GMC Yukon, according to court documents. Two other men were with him, according to the affidavit.

Musteen searched the Police Department's database and was able to identify the person in the video as Hutchek. Jessica Winters, Hutchek's probation officer, also was able to identify Hutchek.

Musteen also searched online for any transactions by Hutchek at pawn shops or scrap yards, according to court documents. Musteen discovered Hutchek had been involved in multiple purchases and sold about 934 pounds of copper at USA Metal Recycling and received $2,755 on July 30, according to court documents.

According to court documents, police learned Hutchek sold:

The two companies photographed the items and the people selling the material, according to court documents. During one of the sales at USA Metal a woman was photographed with Hutchek, according to the affidavit.

Police questioned Hutchek, who denied involvement in the burglary, according to court documents. Police showed him a photograph of the other two men, and he denied knowing who they were.

Police identified the woman with Hutchek at USA Metal as Natalie Earnest. According to court documents, she denied knowing Hutchek or anything about the stolen copper when questioned.

Musteen told her he had a photograph of her with next to a large pile of copper while Hutchek was selling other copper. Natalie Earnest denied involvement and claimed there are many people who look like her, according to the affidavit.

Police also learned Natalie Earnest sold 934 pounds of copper at TRG for $2,884 on July 30, according to court documents. Several other copper sales were listed in the affidavit.

The investigation led police to Corshia's home at 2503 Turtle Creek Drive where a white Yukon was parked in the driveway, according to the affidavit. Small pieces of copper were lying on the ground in the front yard and in front of the garage door.

Police later recovered 3,320 pounds of copper and other items from the Turtle Creek residence, according to the affidavit. The recovered copper was worth more than $10,000, according to court documents.

Police also identified one of the men photographed with Hutchek at the Neighborhood Market as Corshia's husband, Chatwin Earnest, according to court documents.

Keith Foster, public information officer for Rogers Police, said the police report included several items including tools and computers that were stolen along with the copper. Foster said the property owner listed the damages and the value of the stolen items at $937,250.

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