BARRE — A Granite City man accused of stealing catalytic converters has been charged with more crimes alleging the same.

Robert Dragon, 28, pleaded not guilty Thursday in Washington County criminal court to felony counts of grand larceny and unlawful mischief. If convicted, Dragon faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison. He was released on conditions including a 24-hour curfew.

Officer Damian L. Hook, of the Barre Town police, said in his affidavit a theft was reported at Eastman’s Auto March 3. Hook said he spoke to the owner of the business who reported several catalytic converters had been stolen from vehicles on two separate occasions. The owner told Hook the estimated damage to the vehicles was $2,864.81.

Hook said the owner reported noticing the converters were stolen on March 1 and March 3 when he tried to start the vehicles and they wouldn’t start.

Hook said he later spoke to a witness who reported she was with Dragon when he stole catalytic converters from vehicles at several locations, including Eastman’s. The witness told police Dragon would cut the converters off and then cut them a second time so they wouldn’t match up with the cut marks on the vehicles, according to court records.

In April, Dragon pleaded not guilty to several crimes, including three felony counts of grand larceny, three felony counts of unlawful mischief, a felony count of possession of stolen property and a felony count of attempting to impede a public officer.

In that case, Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy James Wells said in his affidavit he was on patrol in Cabot Feb. 26 when he noticed a vehicle drive by with a defective exhaust. Wells said he pulled the vehicle over and the driver said his name was “Donald Dragon” but he didn’t have his driver’s license on him.

Wells said he saw a glassine bag inside the vehicle that is typically used to store heroin so he asked for and was given consent to search the vehicle. He said he found about a dozen catalytic converters in the truck of the car.

A passenger in the vehicle told Wells that Donald Dragon was actually Robert Dragon, according to court records.

Wells said he later learned catalytic converters had been stolen from Mekkelsen RV Sales & Rentals in East Montpelier. He said two of the converters in Dragon’s vehicle matched those stolen from Mekkelsen.

Wells said the sheriff’s department put out a press release asking anyone if catalytic converters had been stolen from their vehicles and he was told a converter had been cut off a truck in Montpelier.

He said a witness later came forward and told him Dragon had been cutting converters off of vehicles. She told Wells Dragon took converters from vehicles in Montpelier, Cabot and at Mekkelsen.

Wells said on April 1 he received a report from R&J Auto in Barre about a converter stolen from a vehicle there. He said he checked the surveillance footage and saw Dragon’s vehicle pull up to the business, a male gets out and goes to the vehicle that had its converter removed and goes back to the vehicle a few minutes later and leaves.

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