Johnson brothers sentenced to 44 days

Two South Routt brothers charged with theft of camping gear and illegal fishing were sentenced to 44 days in jail and one-year unsupervised probation.

Ronnie Johnson, 22, and Michael Johnson, 24, appeared in court Wednesday and were ordered to pay a $100 fine for the theft and a $50 fine for illegal fishing.

The sentencing comes after the brothers had a lengthy run-in with the law last month.

On Sept. 10, the brothers were arrested on suspicion of motor-vehicle theft and driving under the influence of alcohol after getting a truck stuck in the mud on the side of Colorado Highway 131. The day before the Colorado State Patrol had been looking for the same truck -- a 1999 Chevy extended cab -- that was reported stolen by a Texas woman.

Less then a week later, the brothers and a 19-year-old Texas woman were accused of taking $350 worth of camping gear, including tents, sleeping bags and chairs, from a hunting camp in the King Creek Bureau of Land Management area in South Routt.

The brothers also faced illegal fishing charges for fishing without a valid fishing license and unlawfully possessing six trout.

The District Attorney's Office dropped the vehicle-theft charge, saying there was significant information for probable cause but that it would be hard to prove in court.

At a Sept. 17 hearing, Ronnie and Michael Johnson pleaded guilty to theft of the camping gear. Ronnie Johnson was released on bond Oct. 3, and Michael Johnson will remain in jail until he serves his 44 days.

Ronnie Johnson has until Nov. 3 to serve his time. The brothers also were ordered not to come into contact with the owners of the camping gear, Robert Beer and Tim Osetmann.

Ronnie Johnson had to pay fines for failing to pay fines on three cases stemming back to 1999.

On the motor-vehicle theft case, Stephanie Pautard, of Palestine, Texas, said the truck was stolen Aug. 24. She was driving the truck when she was pulled over for speeding. Pautard, who was with the Johnsons, was taken into custody because of an outstanding warrant.

Once at the jail, Pautard said she instructed the brothers to drive the truck to her house in Texas. Instead they drove it to Oak Creek, police said, where it was found two weeks later stuck in the mud.

The relative weakness in Pautard's statement and questions raised on her implied consent for the brothers to take the truck back to her home prevented the District Attorney's Office from pressing charges, said Assistant District Attorney Kerry St. James.

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