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Neighbor charged in theft of Pasco man's vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars

Almost two months after they were stolen from his home, Butch Whitney's guitars have been found.

His neighbor, Kelly Deann Hooten, of 29548 Benjamin Trail in Wesley Chapel, walked in through an unlocked door and nabbed the five vintage Gibson Les Pauls, authorities said. The guitars' vintage dates from 1958 through 1980. All but one were custom.

The instruments were found after Kristopher Marquis Johnson and Roberneka Ford sold two of them to Capital Pawn in Tampa, authorities say. Suspicious managers at the shop researched the guitars, then called police. Two more guitars turned up at Pawn Max in Tampa.

Johnson and Ford were arrested on March 24 and told on Hooten, police said. They found Hooten at her house in Wesley Chapel and arrested her.

Hooten was booked in Hillsborough County jail on two charges of dealing in stolen property. She was transported to Pasco County jail on a charge of burglary of an unoccupied dwelling and a charge of grand theft. She remains there in lieu of $7,500 bail.

Johnson was arrested on two charges of providing false information to a law enforcement officer. He was released from the Hillsborough County jail on $2,000 bail.

Ford is still in the Hillsborough County jail on one charge of grand theft, a charge of uttering a forged instrument, a charge of counterfeit payment, a charge of possession of cannabis, three charges of false information to a pawnbroker and three charges of dealing in stolen property. She is still in jail on $34,500 bail.

While the guitars were missing, Whitney posted a photo on the website for his band, Sobriety X, showing himself with each of his guitars.

Now, over the photo in bright yellow letters: "FOUND!"

Alex Orlando can be reached at aorlando@tampabay.com or (727) 869-6247.

Neighbor charged in theft of Pasco man's vintage Gibson Les Paul guitars 04/12/12 [Last modified: Thursday, April 12, 2012 8:07pm]
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