A St. Paul teenager has been charged in connection with the mid-December burglary of a Cottage Grove home, accused of driving the burglars to and from the crime scene.
Darron Anthony Payne, Jr., 18, was charged last week with second degree aiding and abetting burglary for a Dec. 17 break-in at 9460 Harkness Court where a video game system, flat-screen television, three guns and multiple credit cards were stolen from the home.
Police allege Payne, a student at St. Paul's Arlington High School, drove a 16-year-old and two 17-year-olds to the Cottage Grove residence and that he waited in the gray Dodge Durango registered to his girlfriend's aunt while the juveniles burglarized the home.
According to the Washington County District Court Complaint: Cottage Grove Police were called to the Harkness Court home on a report of a possible burglary. The juvenile son of the homeowners, who were out of town at the time, told officers a number of doors at the rear of the house were wide open when he returned and that an Xbox 360, 37-inch flat screen TV and three guns were missing. Later, credit cards were also reported stolen.
It was confirmed the credit cards were used at multiple locations in the St. Paul area, including a number of gas stations.
An employee of a BP station on St. Paul's Lexington Avenue told Cottage Grove Police investigator Tom Ueland that he suspected a customer driving a gray Dodge Durango had used a stolen credit card on the evening of Dec. 17.
Ueland traced the license plate of the SUV to St. Paul resident Ruth Humphrey. Humphrey's boyfriend told investigators he knew who used the stolen credit cards, fingering the boyfriend of the woman's niece, according to the complaint.
Police determined the boyfriend, Payne, possibly attended Arlington High School and spoke with the school resource officer about any students who drove a gray Dodge Durango. The officer identified Payne.
Investigators obtained a search warrant for a St. Paul apartment where it was believed Payne resided; officers located Payne driving away from the residence and took the 18-year-old into custody. During a search of the apartment Police located a wallet containing a photo of the Cottage Grove family living at 9460 Harkness Court, as well as a missing identification card and credit card.
Payne told police his cousin told him he had a "sweet deal" for him to make $200. Payne stated he drove the juveniles to Cottage Grove, pulled in the driveway and waited while the others went in the house. One of the individuals involved told Payne not to worry -- the homeowners were out of town and the their son was busy at wrestling practice.
If convicted, Payne faces up to 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for his alleged role in the crime.