Williams man charged with construction yard thefts sentenced

James Thomas Vaughn, the Williams man who was arrested earlier this year in connection with various property thefts in the region, including three at construction sites in Williams, was sentenced in the Colusa County Superior Court on Wednesday, July 25.

He previously pleaded guilty to a single felony count of receiving stolen property (motor vehicle) in court on July 18, after reaching a plea agreement with the District Attorney’s Office. Vaughn received a two-year sentence – the mid-term – from Colusa County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Thompson. The Colusa County Probation Department had recommended three years, but the District Attorney’s office chose to recommend the mid-term of two years. Vaughn’s public defender, Albert Smith, said that the mid-term recommendation was part of his client’s plea agreement. In addition to the sentence bargain, the District Attorney’s Office agreed to dismiss three other charges of receiving stolen property, as well as a charge for possession of a controlled substance and a charge for possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Brendan Farrell described Vaughn as “a career thief,” whose career has spanned nearly 30 years, with multiple felonies. Thompson agreed when he handed down the sentence, saying that Vaughn was “quite clearly a career thief… (with) increasingly serious criminal behavior.” He denied probation on the grounds that it had been ineffective at correcting Vaughn’s criminal behavior in the past.

Vaughn, who appeared on his own recognizance, was remanded into the custody of the Colusa County Sheriff’s Office and was taken away from court in handcuffs.

Vaughn, 50, was arrested on a warrant for receiving stolen property in Williams on April 11 of this year, after being pulled over for an expired registration. During an inventory search of his vehicle at that time, officers said that they discovered suspected methamphetamine and a pipe. He was also booked on charges of possession of a controlled substance and possession of controlled substance paraphernalia.

Prior to his April 11 arrest, officers had been searching for Vaughn since March, when an employee of a Fresno-based construction company used a concealed GPS tracker to locate a stolen trailer in Williams. The trailer was stolen out of a PG&E substation in the Yuba City Area overnight. Along with the tools inside it, the trailer was valued in excess of $100,000, the department said at the time. According to a press release, after locating the trailer outside of Vaughn’s Williams residence, the Williams Police Department and various other Colusa County law enforcement agencies executed a search warrant on the house, and found an additional $200,000 in stolen property, including two enclosed trailers, a Harley Davidson motorcycle, a tow-behind generator, and a large amount of construction tools and supplies. Investigators also found evidence and property from thefts at the Love’s Travel Stop and Dollar General construction sites in Williams.

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Brian Pearson is the Managing Editor & Reporter for the Williams Pioneer Review. Brian joined the Williams Pioneer Review in June 2016 and is committed to bringing hyperlocal news to its readers. A few of his projects include reporting on local government and the newly feature sports page. To contact Brian about this article, or for future articles, please email him at brian@colusacountynews.net