Man connected to Lester case charged with fraudulent schemes
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A Charleston man whose statement led police to arrest Shawn Lester in connection to one of the 2003 sniper-style shootings was arrested Tuesday for allegedly pawning stolen items.
South Charleston Police Detective C.A. Cook received a tip Monday that Samuel L. Ranson, 40, of Charleston, had stolen a digital camera and binoculars and resold them at Keller's Survival & Pawn in Charleston earlier this week, according to a criminal complaint filed in Kanawha County Magistrate Court.
The tipster told Cook that Ranson planned to take several GPS devices from stores in Southridge at noon Tuesday, according to the complaint.
Nearing the hour, Cook and South Charleston Detective J.D. Gray drove to Southridge and spotted Ranson exiting Cabela's.
Cook said he recognized Ranson from previous dealings with the law. In 2011, Ranson provided police with a statement implicating his longtime friend, Shawn Lester, in the 2003 sniper-style shooting of Jeannie Patton. Police then arrested Lester on first- and second-degree murder charges.
The detectives saw Ranson get into a white van registered to Sandra K. Shaffer and drive off, according to the complaint. The two detectives followed the van to Keller's Pawn Shop and watched Ranson as he went inside and came back out a few minutes later to drive away, according to the complaint.
The detectives allegedly caught up with Ranson later and watched him go inside Dick's Sporting Goods in South Charleston. Ranson came out and stood outside the van smoking a cigarette with the door open. He then took small bags of fishing equipment out of his jacket and began placing them inside the van, according to the complaint.
The detectives followed Ranson again to Walmart and then to Keller's again. They stopped Ranson when he left the pawnshop a short time later, asked him to exit the van and read him his Miranda rights, according to the complaint.
Ranson had a yellow bag on his lap containing a blood pressure monitor, according to the complaint. Cook told the detectives he had taken two GPS devices from Cabela's valued at $469 each and resold them, according to the complaint.
Ranson said the owner of Keller's wouldn't buy the monitor or the $147 in fishing equipment, the complaint said.
Ranson allegedly said he had just stolen the equipment from Dick's and the monitor from Walmart. Cook said he found a pawn ticket in Ranson's name dated on Friday for a digital camera. Ranson said he sold the camera that day along with some binoculars from Gander Mountain, the complaint said.
Cook arrested Ranson and charged him with felony fraudulent schemes. Kanawha County Magistrate Ward Harshbarger ordered him held in South Central Regional Jail in lieu of a $25,000 cash-only bail.
Harshbarger said Ranson was scheduled to meet with his probation officer early Tuesday but missed it. Ranson was previously arrested for breaking and entering and grand larceny charges, according to previous reports.
Harshbarger identified Ranson and Shaffer in connection to the Lester case.
Shaffer was the wife of Rodney Preston "Big Rod" Shaffer, who was allegedly inside the same vehicle with Lester at the scene of Patton's murder.
Lester pleaded guilty to one charge of second-degree murder in July in Patton's death. Last month, Kanawha Chief Circuit Judge Duke Bloom sentenced Lester to the maximum 40 years.
Reach Travis Crum at email@example.com or 304-348-5163.