GALLIPOLIS — A man arrested by the U.S. Marshal’s Service in early 2013 after warrants were issued for his arrest in multiple states for check fraud, was recently arraigned in the Gallia County Court of Common Pleas on additional charges.
Joseph C. Hajj, 33, formerly of Thomson, Ga., and Nitro, W.Va., pleaded not guilty to one count of passing bad checks and one count of theft during a recent hearing before Judge D. Dean Evans. According to the indictment, Hajj allegedly wrote a check in the amount of $9,113.73, payable to Kawasaki Motor Sports, located on Ohio 160, on Dec. 20, 2010, while knowing that the check would be dishonored. The indictment also specifies that Hajj stole the vehicle — a 2012 green Kawasaki Brute Force ATV — on the date in question.
Hajj previously pleaded not guilty to one felony count of passing bad checks in Gallia County after he allegedly wrote a check on Feb. 28, 2012, in the amount of $51,888 to John Sang Ford in Gallipolis.
He was arraigned in this case on July 27, 2012, and was later released from the Gallia County Jail on Aug. 24, 2012.
Following his release from jail, he failed to appear for a pre-trial settlement conference on Oct. 17, 2012, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. A second warrant was later issued for Hajj’s arrest by the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office after the alleged incident at Kawasaki Motor Sports on Dec. 20, 2012, and after the suspect, several days later, allegedly wrote a bad check to Thomas Do-It Center for equipment valued at $1,468.
At that time, warrants were also issued for Hajj’s arrest in Meigs County on a charge of felony theft by deception, and in West Virginia after he allegedly passed bad checks to obtain a 2012 white Dodge Ram in Beckley.
The checks that Hajj had been writing to local businesses were reportedly made to appear as if they were from a business, such as BA Contracting, Johnson Construction or JJ Construction, and the address on some of the checks had appeared to be from Nitro, W.Va.
Following an investigation, the stolen truck from Beckley was reportedly later observed a few days later at a residence on Quail Creek Drive in Green Township, Gallia County.
Gallia County deputies later responded to investigate the area, and, reportedly, the officers were later informed that a white male had run out the back door of the home on Quail Creek upon their arrival. This man was later identified as Hajj.
The truck parked at the residence was towed from the scene.
Reportedly, deputies discovered fake checks within the vehicle that Hajj allegedly used to purchase items from local businesses. The truck was inventoried and the items inside kept as evidence. Officials in Beckley, W.Va., were notified of the vehicle’s recovery.
At the time, officials reported that Hajj was also wanted in Kentucky and Georgia for grand larceny of an auto and a probation violation in Georgia. There were also, reportedly, seven warrants for his arrest in West Virginia.
The Associated Press later reported, in January 2013, that Hajj had been arrested at a Red Roof Inn in Kennesaw, Ga., by the U.S. Marshal’s Fugitive Squad.
At the time of his apprehension, Hajj was reportedly in the possession of a 2012 Dodge truck that was reported stolen the previous day from a dealership in Canterville, Ga. — a vehicle stolen through the reported use of a fraudulent check.
Also reportedly arrested at the time was James H. Moore, 31, of Middleport, who was reportedly apprehended in Chattanooga, Tenn.
The two men were reported as the pair who were found writing a bad check for the purchase of the ATV at Kawasaki Motor Sports in Gallia County on Dec. 20, 2012, as well as giving Family Ford of Marietta, Washington County, a fraudulent check for $52,654 for a 2013 Ford truck on Dec. 19, 2012.
At the time of his arrest in Tennessee, Moore was reportedly driving the stolen truck from Marietta.
At the time of their arrest, the Associated Press reported that the men were collectively accused of obtaining more than $400,000 worth of vehicles, firearms, tools and gasoline through the use of fraudulent checks.
Both men were reportedly later extradited to Washington County, where they were to be prosecuted.
According to the Meigs County Clerk of Courts online docket, Hajj has two pending cases through the Meigs County Common Pleas Court in which he has been charged with two counts of forgery and three counts of theft in his earliest case, and one count of theft and one count of forgery in his second case. He is reportedly scheduled to appear before Judge Carson Crow on July 7 for a final pre-trial hearing in regard to both of his Meigs County cases.
In Gallia County, Hajj is scheduled to appear for a pre-trial settlement conference on July 18. A plea agreement may be filed in this latest case by Aug. 15.
According to information on the Meigs County Clerk of Courts website, as of April 21, Hajj was being held in the Pickaway Correctional Institution in Orient, Ohio.
Further information as to Hajj’s additional cases, as well as the cases filed against Moore, were unavailable as of press time.