Trio of alleged truck thieves busted in Eagle | VailDaily.com

Trio of alleged truck thieves busted in Eagle

EAGLE – Three Ohio men said they wanted a "fresh start," but started their fresh start in a truck they allegedly stole from a friend.

Jesse Ambrogi, Joshua Barney and Jeremy Rogers Stemen, all from the Dayton, Ohio area told an Eagle County judge they were headed to California.

However, they decided to obey Horace Greeley's admonition – "Go west, young man," by allegedly car-jacking a friend's truck, reportedly pushing him out of the truck before speeding away toward the West Coast, authorities said.

They got as far as Edwards when the truck shredded a tire, so the Truck Thief Trifecta abandoned it. At about 8:20 a.m. Thursday, they allegedly stole another vehicle at the Edwards Wendy's, so they could continue their westward sojourn.

That vehicle's owner took a dim view of the Truck Thief Trifecta's method of vehicle acquisition, and called the police.

Johnny Law – Eagle County Sheriff's deputies – were johnny on the spot. The Truck Thief Trifecta made it less than five miles to Wolcott when deputies caught up to them and gave chase.

Recommended Stories For You

The trifecta got off Interstate 70 at Eagle, lost control and crashed into a guardrail, which made them pretty easy to arrest.

The crash site also is not far from the Eagle County Crossbar Hotel, where the three are currently incarcerated, held on $5,000 cash bond each.

"Just passing through"

All three made their first court appearance Friday morning before Eagle County Court Judge Katharine Sullivan. They're charged with aggravated motor vehicle theft, eluding, reckless endangerment and all kinds of other charges.

In court Friday, Stemen was resplendent in a T-shirt that reads, "What do you geek?"

"Why were you in Eagle County?" Judge Sullivan asked him.

"Just passing through. Trying to make it to Cali," he said.

He said he has family and a few friends in California, and was trying to "start over."

"I wasn't on the best track in Ohio," Stemen said.

Barney, 31, wore plaid shorts that fell below his knee and a black wife beater T-shirt to court, the same clothes he was arrested in Thursday.

He said he was headed to California because it seemed like a good idea at the time. He told Judge Sullivan he's unemployed.

Ambrogi told Judge Sullivan he's a self-employed roofer who's not working right now.

Chief Deputy District Attorney Joe Kirwan said Ambrogi, the only member of the Truck Thief Trifecta to appear in court wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, has a criminal history that includes a few aliases, a couple felony convictions and an outstanding warrant connected to a kidnapping in Kentucky.

All three said they'll request that the taxpayer-funded public defender represent them. They'll be back in court August 16.

Staff Writer Randy Wyrick can be reached at 970-748-2935 or rwyrick@vaildaily.com.