Isaiah BurtCounty Attorney Thomas Laehn says plans are underway to retrieve a local fugitive, Isaiah Burt, from New York City following his arrest there last week. HERALD FILE PHOTO

Sheriff’s office to retrieve local fugitive in NYC

By ANDREW MCGINN

a.mcginn@beeherald.com

Twice, authorities in Ohio contacted then-Greene County Attorney Nic Martino with the whereabouts of a local fugitive and an offer to pick him up and extradite him to Jefferson.

“Both times, Nic said no,” current County Attorney Thomas Laehn said, explaining a long-held policy by his predecessor that as long as a criminal suspect was staying out of Iowa, they were another state’s problem.

Within two months of taking office this year, Laehn had that fugitive, 29-year-old Justin Emmick, behind bars in Iowa, the state he fled to avoid serving a 10-year prison sentence for theft and selling prescription pills to local high school students in 2008.

So when the call came last week from the nation’s biggest city that the famed NYPD had a Greene County fugitive in custody, they only had to ask once.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Office is planning to retrieve 32-year-old Isaiah Burt from the Big Apple, where he was arrested Oct. 22 on an unspecified charge and is currently being held on a massive jail barge floating in the East River, according to the New York City Department of Correction.

Burt, whose last known address was in the state of Georgia, was indicted locally last year for allegedly stealing an identity in 2017 and using that person’s credit card at multiple Greene County businesses, racking up a reported $1,489 in purchases.

He was indicted on seven counts — three counts of fraudulent use of a credit card, three counts of identity theft and, the most serious charge, ongoing criminal conduct, a felony.

“We want to make it clear,” Laehn told The Jefferson Herald on Wednesday, “that if you commit a crime in Greene County, there will be a penalty.”

The details of Burt’s extradition are still in the works. It’s possible that two Greene County sheriff’s deputies could be sent to the Bronx to retrieve Burt — a distance of 1,173 miles — or else a private prison transport could be hired for the job.

However, the earliest Burt could be made available for extradition, Laehn said, is spring. Burt will first have to face criminal proceedings in New York, which might possibly include a prison term there, Laehn said.

The decision to extradite Burt was made jointly between the sheriff’s office and county attorney’s office, according to Laehn.

“If someone steals a can of pop from Casey’s and flees to California, we’re not going to extradite,” Laehn said. “That wouldn’t be a good use of taxpayer money. I learned early on in this job that every case has to be evaluated on its own merits.”

Arguably, public opinion is on his side.

To date, no other decision has elicited more positive feedback than the one Laehn and Sheriff Jack Williams made to retrieve Emmick from Ohio in March, he said.

“We received a lot of positive feedback from the community,” Laehn said.

Laehn said it sent a message.

“If somebody commits a murder,” he said, “we’ll track them down to China.”

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