Wallingford man charged as habitual offender
By Brent Curtis
STAFF WRITER | May 24,2013
A Wallingford man arrested this week on a trio of charges and an outstanding arrest warrant has been singled out by prosecutors to receive a habitual offender enhancement if convicted of the latest felony leveled against him.
Joshua A. Rheaume, 37, pleaded innocent Thursday in Rutland criminal court to a felony charge of aggravated operation of a motor vehicle without the owner’s consent, a misdemeanor charge of operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent and a misdemeanor charge of possessing stolen property. He also pleaded innocent to a misdemeanor count of domestic assault that he was scheduled to be arraigned on last month. When he didn’t appear to enter a plea to the charge, a warrant was issued for his arrest.
Bail was set at $75,000 for Rheaume who remained in the Rutland jail late Thursday afternoon.
While he only faces a maximum of four years in jail if convicted of the misdemeanor offenses, Rheaume would be faced with a potential lifetime jail sentence if found guilty of the new felony charge due to the habitual offender enhancement.
Rutland County prosecutors wrote in the new charge that four prior felony convictions in Rutland and Windham counties made Rheaume eligible for the enhanced penalty.
Police began searching for Rheaume a week ago when it was reported that he had been seen driving a 2003 Monte Carlo belonging to an elderly woman who hadn’t given him permission to drive the vehicle.
A Rutland County Sheriff’s Department deputy spotted the Monte Carlo at the Mill River Union High School parking lot on Tuesday and attempted to stop the vehicle. But the driver ignored the deputy and sped away at a high rate of speed, according to court records.
The car was later returned to the elderly woman’s Wallingford home but a second vehicle, a 2000 Volkswagen Beetle, was found to be missing from the home, police said.
The bug was later found in Rutland at a Summer Street address where Rheaume had reportedly been. Hours later, police found Rheume near the intersection of Baxter and State streets, according to court records.
Police say they also found jewelry belonging to the elderly woman in Rheaume’s backpack.