Staff at a local veterans shelter say the Monday arraignment of a man who stole thousands from the center has finally given them a sense of closure.
James Harold Reardon, 42, appeared in a Gila County courtroom in Globe on two counts of theft after authorities extradited him from Florida where he had fled after allegedly stealing from the veterans shelter in December.
Reardon remains in jail on a $25,000 bond. His next court appearance is July 13 in Payson before Judge Peter Cahill.
Andrea Russo, Veterans Helping Veterans assistant director, said she felt vindicated on Monday as she watched Reardon walk into court wearing handcuffs.
“That was closure for me,” Russo said. “I spent four months of my life tracking him down and now it is six months later and I just wanted to see him in court having to answer for what he did here.”
On Dec. 9, Reardon allegedly left Payson in the facility’s Chevy Silverado with nearly $15,000 swindled from one of the veterans.
Reportedly, Reardon had agreed to sell a veteran’s pickup truck, but instead he took the title of the truck, re-registered it in his name and sold it at Chapman Auto Center.
With the money, he hopped a plane to Florida, abandoning the center’s pickup in an airport parking lot.
With few clues to go on, Russo said she thought she would never see Reardon again.
But Russo said she couldn’t give up without first calling the media and reporting the story.
After months, the break she waited for came when a property owner in Florida called and said he had found an article on Reardon’s alleged crime on the Payson Roundup’s Web site.
The property owner told Russo that Reardon had offered to pay him cash to rent an apartment.
The man said he had felt uneasy about Reardon and did a Web search. When he found the Roundup article, he called Russo to see if she could identify the prospective renter. Russo sent the man a copy of Reardon’s driver’s license.
It took another few weeks and another anonymous caller before authorities could track Reardon down. This time, a woman called Russo to say she had found media articles on Reardon and knew where he was living.
When Russo did a Web search of Reardon’s phone number, she uncovered Craigslist ads Reardon had taken out in the Cudjoe Key, Fla. area. The ads listed Reardon’s address, which Russo promptly handed over to Florida authorities.
Monroe County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Reardon on a warrant out of Gila County.
Before authorities could extradite him back to Arizona, Reardon had to answer for another warrant out of Pinellas County, Fla.
According to court records, Reardon, using the alias James Baudo, had an outstanding warrant for grand theft and a forged check dating back to 1990.
Reardon was ordered to serve 30 days in jail before being transferred to Arizona.
On Thursday, Reardon arrived in Arizona and remains in jail.
The pickup Reardon allegedly took from the center was recovered April 11 from a long-term parking lot at Sky Harbor Airport.
The truck sat in the lot for four months before employees ran the truck’s plate and found it had been reported stolen.
Although Russo is thankful Reardon is behind bars, she said she still hasn’t gotten over the betrayal. “I thought he cared about this place,” she said. “This place is all about changing your circumstances if you want to badly enough and he could have changed his circumstances when he got here, but he chose not to.”