Cullman Police Office Zach Latham recently initiated what became a lengthy law enforcement investigation that involved dozens of stolen items from a prominent Cullman family, a forged instrument arrest and Receiving Stolen Goods charge for a Cullman Pawn Shop owner.
According to Cullman Police Sergeant Adam Clark, Office Zach Latham participated in a call involving a suspect with a history of forgeries in which he had previously made contact.
During the call, Latham found a negotiable instrument (personal check) that he had reasonable suspicion to believe might be bogus. The suspect initially informed Latham that the check was valid and legitimate as part of a payment made to him by a contractor for whom he worked in performing labor at the home of a prominent Cullman family.
Officer Latham also observed a large cache of personal property in the suspect’s vehicle which triggered a reasonable suspicion that the diverse array of uncommon items might be stolen.
At that point, the suspect admitted to helping himself to those negotiable instruments and writing himself a check for a substantial monetary amount.
As a result, Officer Latham promptly arrested:
JOSEPH ADAM BALLARD (32) of Cullman
Ballard was then taken into custody and transported to the Cullman County Detention Center (CCDC) along with the goods in question.
He was charged with:
Receiving Forged Instruments
During the suspect interview process, Ballard revealed that he pawned some stolen items at The Pawn Shop at 100 Main Ave NW, Cullman, AL 35055.
During a business visit to the establishment in an attempt to verify Ballard’s claim, Sergeant Clark was told by a store employee that the owner of The Pawn Shop did make a transaction with Ballard. However, NO pawn ticket or other written documentation involved was involved in the exchange.
Further, Clark learned from the employee that the owner of the shop had taken at least one item of jewelry (an expensive ring) directly to a local jeweler for personalized fitting for her finger immediately after the transaction was made.
In a separate encounter, Sergeant Clark informed The Pawn Shop Owner that he believed she had received and paid for stolen items involved with the Ballard theft case mentioned above.
The owner of The Pawn Shop then voluntarily returned all items she believed Ballard had pawned at her establishment.
Curiously, the owner returned FAR more items of personal property linked to Ballard than Sgt. Clark expected. The returned items filled the CPD evidence room.
At this point, Clark contacted the original theft victim (and matriarch of a prominent Cullman family) who was in Jackson Hole, WY. She flew immediately to Cullman and verified via various means that all the goods were, in fact, her personal property.
These items included:
• A circa-1693 Latin Language book
• An 18 Karat White Gold Diamond Ring
• Fine China serving ware
• Genuine Silver knives, forks, spoons
This confirmatory event initiated a visit to Ballard’s residence by Sergeant Clark, Sergeant Chris Thomason, Officer Latham, and Officer Justin Craft.
Following a discussion with Ballard, he confessed that he possessed even more of the theft victim’s property. These officers then discovered a large stash of stolen property belonging to the victim in Ballard’s bedroom and out building. These items included suitcases stuffed with stolen clothing and footwear and tools among other items.
Ballard also admitted that while working as a subcontractor at the victim’s home, he had made note of the value of these items and had returned to the premises at a later to heist the goods.
As a result, Ballard is now facing charges of:
• Theft of Property – 1st Degree
Meanwhile, Sergeant Clark was conducting a separate investigation into the activities of the owner of The Pawn Shop.
During his investigation, Clark determined that the owner had:
• Forwarded Ballard at least $900 in cash
• Had not issued a ‘pawn ticket’ to Ballard
• Had not waited the required 30 day pawn holding period before making a sale or disposing of the property
• There appeared to be multiple violations of Alabama Pawn Shop Act Title 5, Chapter 19A
During the investigation, Clark had at least one item of jewelry appraised to confirm a 1st Degree Receiving Stolen Property charge would be appropriate.
As a result, a warrant was issued for:
PATRICIA HOLMES BYRAM (66) of Cullman
Byram turned herself into the Cullman County Detention Center (CCDC) where she was charged with:
• Receiving Stolen Property – 1st Degree
She posted a $5,000 property bond to secure her release from CCDC.
We asked Sergeant Clark his overall impressions about this complex theft, forgery and alleged receiving stolen property case. His thoughts seem instructional from several perspectives:
“First off, this is a classic case of ‘If it is too good to be true, it probably is’. Ballard knew better than stealing those items and forging the check. And Byram knew she was making a windfall profit by paying out only $900 for items that almost certainly will tally in value into the 5-digit range.
Second, pawn shop owners need to be aware that they simply cannot conduct business in this manner in Cullman. The Alabama Pawn Shop Act is VERY clear on the responsibilities, duties, and roles of the pawn shop owners during a transaction.
Finally, every pawn shop business in Cullman needs to know the Cullman Police Department will require them to follow the ‘letter of the law’, and we will make arrests and prosecute if the law is not followed as written.”
Public records reveal Ballard has previous arrests and charges; Byram has no previous criminal charges on her record.
Note: All the individuals in this report have been charged with offenses, NOT convicted of crimes. The judicial process following this arrest ultimately determines their individual guilt or innocence in regards to the criminal charge.
For the full story including details on the Alabama Pawn Shop Act, please see: cullmantoday.com/2017/02/01/adam-clark-solves-complex-the…
Tagged: , Cullman , Police , Department , Adam , Clark , Zach , Latham , The , Pawn , Shop , Forgery , Theft , Receiving , Stolen , Property , JOSEPH , BALLARD , PATRICIA , HOLMES , BYRAM