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Constable convicted of theft, cleared of burglary charge

Becky Campbell • Jan 9, 2014 at 9:54 AM

A Washington County constable was found guilty this week of theft over $500 involving a stolen customized trail bike.

Joshua Burleson, 26, had a bench trial before Criminal Court Judge Stacy Street Tuesday on two charges — auto burglary and theft over $1,000.

After hearing the evidence, Street found Burleson not guilty of the burglary, apparently because no one saw him take the bike, but guilty on theft over $500.

Assistant District Attorney General Fred Lance said the owner of the bicycle, Jerry Black, testified he had the $4,000 bike in the back of his pickup truck in November 2012 and it went missing. At the time, Black’s truck was parked at a residence on Heritage Place Drive in Jonesborough.

The bicycle was recovered in January 2013 at a Jonesborough pawn shop when a town police officer saw it there.

Burleson had signed the pawn slip indicating he owned the bike, officials said.

A pawn shop employee testified Burleson received $60 for the bike. After Burleson’s arrest, officials said he pawned the bike for gas money.

Burleson maintains his position as constable, which gives him full arrest power through the state judicial system. Lance said there has been no decision if the DA’s office will seek to have Burleson removed from his position.

“Our office will review that. We have the authority to seek an ouster. ... I haven’t’ discussed that with Mr. (Tony) Clark (district attorney general),” Lance said.

Burleson, who also works full time with the Washington County Highway Department, was elected to constable in August 2012, just three months before the theft. As of Wednesday afternoon, Burleson was still employed with the county.

Burleson is free on bond while the case is pending. There is a sentencing hearing scheduled for Feb. 14. He faces one to two years in prison for the conviction.

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