July 23, 2016

Mostly sunny

Out-of-towners broke into bar, police say

HARRISVILLE TWP. — Two Lorain County men were arrested early Friday, accused of breaking into a tavern.

Brandon Lee Whatmore, 30, of Elyria, and Brandon Lee Thomas, 21, of Grafton, are charged with breaking and entering and possession of criminal tools, fifth-degree felonies punishable by up to a year in jail.

Sheriff’s deputies reported finding the men inside the Midway Tavern, 9977 Lafayette Road, at about 3:30 a.m. Deputies were dispatched to the bar after the owner, who lives next door to the tavern, reported a security monitoring system alerted them about a possible break-in.

Sheriff’s Capt. David Centner said deputies arrived to find the front window broken and Whatmore and Thomas inside.

“Once they were taken into custody, they refused to cooperate or say anything,” Centner said. “We don’t believe there’s any relationship between these two and the bar. It was probably a target of opportunity.

“We’re seeing more and more that folks are coming from outside communities to commit crimes.”

The men were taken to the Medina County Jail. They were arraigned Friday before Wadsworth Municipal Court Judge Stephen B. McIlvaine, who set bail for each man at $15,000, 10 percent.

No court date has been set.

Both men have police records in Lorain County.

In July 2013, Thomas was charged with theft and misuse of credit cards, fourth-degree felonies, and receiving stolen property, a fifth-degree felony.

He was granted intervention in lieu of conviction in October 2013. But a court official said he violated the terms of that deal, was found guilty and placed on probation for two years.

In January, he was charged with burglary, a fourth-degree felony. That case is pending in Lorain County Common Pleas Court and a pretrial is set for May 19.

In January 2013 in Elyria Municipal Court, Whatmore paid $289 in fines and court costs on a misdemeanor charge of receiving stolen property.

Contact reporter Dan Pompili at (330) 721-4012 or dpompili@medina-gazette.com.