Franklin County Sheriff's Department

A special task force comprised of Franklin County deputies and municipal police officers nabbed 11 suspects Monday. 

The fugitive apprehension task force was assembled by the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and included officers and detectives from the Multi County Narcotics Violent Crime Enforcement Unit, and Union, Washington, St. Clair, New Haven, Sullivan and Pacific police departments. 

According to Maj. T.J. Wild with the sheriff’s office, these types of “roundups” are conducted periodically.

He explained there are several factors that determine when they are conducted, including the number of inmates at the Franklin County Jail. 

Wild explained the suspects targeted by the apprehension task force are not people who violate traffic warrants. Instead, they are accused of more serious crimes, such as stealing, narcotics and sex crimes.

“This operation was part of an ongoing aggressive stance law enforcement is taking on drugs, crimes against persons and property-related crimes in Franklin County,” said Sheriff Steve Pelton. 

Another factor for when these roundups are conducted is manpower, Wild added.

“We had quite a few officers from municipalities which made the arrest force much better,” he said.

A fugitive apprehension task force could also be assembled if there is a rash of drug overdoses or an influx of potent drugs in Franklin County.

In July 2018 there was an “aggressive anti-crime campaign” intended to curb burglaries and drug-related activity. There were nine people arrested on warrants and multiple new charges for drugs and possession of stolen property.

“If drugs are the driving force behind these, we get these people in custody to try and further other investigations,” Wild said.

According to Pelton, there were several people arrested on misdemeanor charges who were located during the operation. He said those with lesser charges of misdemeanors or traffic violations were not targeted by the task force.

One suspect who was targeted is Vernon Elders, 52, Robertsville, who was arrested on charges of statutory sodomy and child molestation. The charges against Elders date back to incidents that occurred more than 10 years ago, according to court records. 

His bond had been set at $50,000 cash-only.

“There also was a new case developed during the operation for possession of heroin,” Pelton said. The suspect’s name is being withheld pending formal charges. 

The sheriff’s office thanked the local police departments for their assistance with the operation.

The following were others arrested on outstanding warrants during the course of the enforcement effort:

• Steven M. Sutherland, 59, St. Clair, possession of controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia, $4,900 cash or surety bond;

• Daniel J. Strube, 18, St. Clair, shoplifting and multiple traffic-related offenses, $2,285 cash-only bond;

• Henry C. Phillips, 54, St. Clair, traffic-related offenses, $2,622 cash-only bond;

• Summer C. Riley, 26, Union, two counts of possession of controlled substance, $12,078 cash-only bond;

• Andrew McCall, 19, St. Clair, sexual misconduct, peace disturbance and driving while intoxicated, no bond;

• Scott E. Hilton, 31, St. Clair, larceny, driving while revoked and other traffic-related offenses, $965 cash-only bond;

• Joseph A. Barnhart, 36, Union, domestic assault and resisting arrest, no bond;

• Nicholas E. Beanblossom, 36, Union, stealing, $20,000 cash-only bond;

• Ashley R. Harlow, 27, Union, trespassing and traffic-related offenses, $250 cash-only bond; and

• Philip C. Settlemoir, 35, Union, probation violation and traffic-related offenses, no bond.