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Charges against roofers dismissed

Ownership of a widely publicized ?roofers? hoard? of 1,800 primarily large-size (pre-1929) bank notes remains uncertain, but evidence against men who were charged with stealing it from a barn roof apparently was not strong.

Timothy A. Crebase, of Methuen, Mass.; and Barry Billcliff, of Manchester, N.H., had been charged May 4, 2005, with larceny of over $250 from a person over 60 years old. Matthew Ingham, of Newton, N.H., and Kevin Kozak, of Methuen, had been charged with receiving stolen property, conspiracy and being an accessory after the fact.

On Feb. 17, Judge Thomas Brennan of the Lawrence, Mass., District Court agreed with a motion filed in January by lawyers for the men, and dismissed the charges against all four, citing insufficient evidence.

A spokesman for Essex District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett said the office was in the process of determining whether further action was warranted.

Story of the hoard grabbed national media attention in April and May of 2005 when some of the young men appeared on television describing how they found a buried treasure in a backyard.

Shortly afterward, police arrested the men, discrediting the buried treasure story and saying the notes had been found in the roof of an old barn owned by Sylvia Littlefield in Newbury, Mass. Some of the men had been hired by a contractor to work on Littlefield?s barn.

The men?s lawyers argued that evidence of the notes having been stolen from the barn was lacking.

The notes remain in the possession of the Essex district attorney?s office, where they have been since the four men were arrested April 28, 2005.
Absent further action against the men, they could go to court to attempt to claim the notes. The motion for dismissal did not request return of the property, Billcliff?s attorney, Alexander Cain, told the Boston Globe.

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