By Lisa Trigg
TERRE HAUTE — It isn’t often police thank a suspect for helping them in their case against him, but a local tattoo artist received just such gratitude from the New York authorities who’ve been looking for him since last autumn.
Christopher Crego, 39, was arrested by U.S. Marshals on Wednesday at the Body Art Ink tattoo parlor near Seventh and Walnut streets in downtown Terre Haute. He had been wanted since last fall, when he failed to show up in Lockport, N.Y. for a sentencing hearing after pleading guilty to assault. He also was charged in August 2009 with drunken driving, possession of marijuana and using a BB gun to kill birds.
The interesting twist in the arrest is that New York police located Crego through postings on the social networking sites, Facebook and MySpace.
In fact, Lockport police posted a thank-you note on Crego’s Facebook page that read: “Just a quick thank you for giving us your current employer’s name and address. Without the help from you and your friends, your arrest would not have been possible. Special thanks for the excellent photos you provided for the U.S. Marshals. Without the help of criminals such as yourself, our job would be much more difficult.”
Crego’s Facebook page lists his current city as Jasonville, Ind., his hometown as Lockport, N.Y., and his employer as Body Art Ink in Terre Haute.
Crego appeared Friday morning in Vigo Superior Court 1, where Judge Michael Eldred showed him a letter from New York officials indicating they plan to extradite him for sentencing.
But Crego said he intends to fight extradition, explaining he had spoken to his attorney in New York who, he said, advised him it was doubtful the state would seek a governor’s warrant to have him extradited on the misdemeanor charges.
Eldred warned Crego that the New York prosecutor seemed serious about the extradition. And, the judge said any time Crego spends in the Vigo County jail fighting extradition might not be applied as credit to his sentence in New York.
Crego requested a public defender to help him fight extradition. The judge appointed Luther Garcia, and set an April 5 hearing date in the event extradition has not occurred.
“So if I’m still here at 60 days …?” Crego asked the judge.
“You’re free,” Eldred replied. But the judge cautioned Crego that even if he is not extradited this time, the New York warrant will remain active.
“Any time you are pulled over for a traffic violation, or if you are a passenger in a car that’s pulled over and the police run your identification, you are going to turn up as wanted and you will be arrested,” Eldred said. “It’s best for you to go back to New York and get this case resolved.”
Crego then restated his doubt that New York would go through with the extradition.
Judge Eldred said he needed local charges to hold Crego, other than the extradition, so he found probable cause to hold him on a preliminary charge of escape. Eldred gave the prosecutor 72 hours to file a formal charge of escape, and set a hearing date for Tuesday. He also set bond at $25,000 with 10 percent allowed.
Lisa Trigg can be reached at (812) 231-4254 or firstname.lastname@example.org.