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Four men admit stealing from Elkridge library work site

A renovated and expanded Elkridge branch library opened in March.
A renovated and expanded Elkridge branch library opened in March. (Jen Rynda/BSMG)

Four men have pleaded guilty to a string of thefts from the Elkridge branch library renovation project in 2017, county prosecutors announced.

Michael Gregory Cheeks, 30, of Aberdeen, and Tyrone Howard, 31, of Edgewood, pleaded guilty to burglary charges on Monday morning in Howard County Circuit Court.

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The $33 million library reopened in March after more than a year of construction.

Elkridge’s new, 35,000 square foot facility is more than double in size of the previous building, branch manager Phil Lord said the new building, which features vastly expanded meeting and study space and a DIY Education Center, will greatly improve the branch’s visibility in the area.

During construction, the site “was hit by a series of overnight thefts of power and hand tools, along with copper wiring,” according to the state’s attorney’s summary. Thefts occurred at the library, on Washington Boulevard, and in the Troy Hill Shopping Center where there was another construction site.

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Cheeks pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree burglary for an Oct. 8, 2017 theft at the library and for a Nov. 12, 2017 burglary at the shopping center, according to prosecutors.

Thomas Prescott Ross Jr., Cheeks’ attorney, said that he “will comment further after my client has been sentenced.”

Howard pleaded guilty to a single count of second-degree burglary for the Oct. 8, 2017 library theft as well as conspiracy to commit a second-degree burglary on Sept. 15, 2017 at the second construction site, according to the state’s attorney’s summary.

Matthew Williamson, Howard’s attorney declined to provide comment on Wednesday.

Howard County Circuit Court Judge Richard S. Bernhardt is scheduled to sentence Cheeks and Howard on Dec. 14, according to the state’s attorney’s office.

In July, Earl Nathaniel Watkins, of Baltimore, and Lennard Jerrod Darby, of Edgewood, pleaded guilty to several second-degree burglary charges.

On July 16, Watkins pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree burglary, for the Sept. 15, 2017 library theft and the Nov. 12, 2017 shopping center burglary, according to a state’s attorney spokesman.

On July 2, Darby pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree burglary, two at the library on July 19, 2017 and Sept. 15, 2017 and one on Nov. 12, 2017 at the shopping center, according to a state’s attorney’s spokesman.

Watkins and Darby, both 28, remain free on bond. Watkins’s sentencing is scheduled for Oct. 4 and Darby’s is set for Oct. 12.

Ian Anthony, Darby’s attorney, declined to provide comment on Wednesday.

Bonnie Wylie, Watkins’s attorney, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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The four were identified by scrap metal dealers and surveillance video from the shopping center construction site, according to the state’s attorney’s summary.

Natasha Byus, an assistant state’s attorney, said in court that the scrap dealer transaction records led to the arrests of the four men.

This story has been updated to reflect the fact that the Troy Hill Shopping Center site was not connected to the library construction site and to report that three attorneys declined to comment.

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