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Man sentenced for his involvement in theft of construction equipment

Idaho Falls

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IDAHO FALLS — A local man was sentenced to probation after pleading guilty to a lesser charge as part of a plea agreement.

Raul J Lomeli, 34, pleaded guilty to compounding a misdemeanor last Wednesday. That charge is given to people that have knowledge of a crime but attempt to conceal it from authorities. Lomeli was originally charged with compounding a felony for his involvement in stealing a skidsteer from a local construction company.

After a recommendation from prosecutors, Magistrate Judge Kent Gauchay placed Lomeli on a year of probation and suspended a 60-day jail sentence.

If Lomeli violates his probation he may have to fulfill his jail sentence.

RELATED | Second man charged in theft of construction equipment

Investigators said Lomeli helped Ryan Hilliard steal a skidsteer from a construction company in October 2018. According to an affidavit of probable cause, Lomeli, who was employed by Hilliard, told detectives Hilliard asked him to pick up the skidsteer, which he claimed was his, and take it to Ultimate Construction’s shop. In reality, the piece of machinery was owned by Bybee Construction.

Hilliard, the owner of Ultimate Construction, was sentenced to spend between 18-months and up to 10 years in prison after a jury convicted him of felony grand theft in February.

Text messages between Lomeli and Hilliard showed them speaking about exchanging money for “the cat,” according to court documents. In an interview with detectives, Hilliard told police he bought the equipment for $24,000 from Lomeli. Lomeli said he did not know he was stealing the skidsteer.

RELATED | Contractor sent to prison for theft of expensive equipment

Lomeli told investigators he noticed a post on social media about the stolen skidsteer, leading him to confront Hilliard. During the confrontation, Lomeli claims Hilliard offered him $5,000 to stay quiet about the theft.

Just before the December trial, Hilliard presented a bill of sale dated Oct. 26, 2018. On the bill of sale is a signature with Lomeli’s name, but the employee said the signature is not his and appears forged.

During the trial, the signature on the bill of sale was compared to the signature on Lomeli’s driver’s license, the signature on the check he endorsed and the signature he provided to the prosecution. None of them matched the signature on the bill of sale.

Lomeli will also have to complete 100 hours of community service and pay $357.50 in fees and fines.

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