Former Kermit Mechanic Behind Bars On Warrants From Two States 1/14/14
CBS 7 News
January 14, 2014
KERMIT-A former Kermit mechanic whose shop was the center of a Sheriff’s investigation is now behind bars.
According to Sheriff George Keely, Casey Harper is in the Winkler County Jail on a felony theft charge of more than $1500 for selling a vehicle he was supposed to fix.
Harper is also being held on seven warrants out of Jal, New Mexico, where he moved his mechanic's shop around March 2013.
Those warrants range from fourth-degree felony embezzlement to receiving and disposing of stolen property.
He is being held on bonds that total $56,000.
CBS 7 spoke to Harper back in March shortly after he moved his mechanic’s shop to Jal, New Mexico. Harper was also in a Crane jail on similar charges back in May.
This is a file photo from his May 2013 arrest.
CBS 7 News Reporter
March 1, 2013
Imagine dropping your car off at a mechanic for repairs on the outside, months later you open it up and it's trashed on the inside.
For one Kermit woman, it was a reality.
"It's trashed,” said the owner of a vehicle left for repair at Harper’s Heavy Equipment and Automotive in Kermit. “The whole dash is taken completely out, he’s got stuff thrown all over the Suburban.”
It was supposed to just be the rear end. Months later and the car is back--with parts thrown inside, the dashboard and ignition ripped apart.
She says Casey Harper of now-closed Harper’s automotive repair shop did the work and held the car for months.
"He called me and told me it was ready, he kept saying it. He just finally quit answering his phone,” said the car owner.
She’s not the only one who claims they were taken advantage of--Sheriff Keely heard rumors and took action.
He wrote a column in the paper, reaching out to victims of mechanic shops--without naming any one in particular.
"He would tell people he had a mechanics lien, but he didn’t have anybody sign any,” said Sheriff George Keely of Winkler County.
It took a police escort and a wrecker truck to get this vehicle and others out of the shop.
The owner said she never signed any paperwork.
We crossed state lines to catch up with Harper at his new shop in Jal, New Mexico.
We asked him if every customer signs paperwork when they drop off cars.
"99.9 percent of the time,” Casey Harper, owner of Harper’s Heavy Equipment and Automotive said. He said he knew of at least one instance in which paperwork was not signed, but could not confirm others. “Paperwork was filled out, but it was never signed by the owner.”
So what happened to this car?
"The dash was taken apart. We did that. We took that apart,” Harper said, alleging that the ignition was removed because the owner took the vehicle’s keys from his shop without paying.
Harper says he moved his shop out of state because he felt he is being bullied by authorities.
“Am I running from the problem? No. I’ll be back for the court dates,” Harper said. “But I still got to feed my family.”
Criminal litigation is pending and the first civil case goes to court in Winkler County next week.
Former Kermit Mechanic Out Of Jail After Crane County Arrest 5/20/13
CBS 7 News
May 20, 2013
CRANE COUNTY-Crane County Sheriff's Officials say Casey Harper was arrested on May 10th.
Harper was arrested on two misdemeanor charges including theft by service and theft by check. Crane Sheriff's Officials say he took more than $1200 in checks and also took money for mechanic services that were never fulfilled.
You'll remember that Harper came under scrutiny after moving his Kermit mechanic shop across the border to New Mexico earlier this year.
Kermit Sheriff George Keely tells us that a grand jury will be meeting soon to discuss charges against Harper. Keely says he was also arrested for a Misdemeanor out of Winkler County for class B theft of property over $50 but less than $500.
Crane County says Harper was released after 14 days in jail in lieu of paying restitution for his theft.