Three Plead Guilty in Paintball Thefts

Three Plead Guilty in Paintball Thefts

In the wee hours of July 29, intruders smashed out the front glass door of a paintball supplies store in Chantilly and snatched merchandise from the displays.

Now, those responsible have pleaded guilty in court and will be sentenced in February. They are Rodolfo "John" Gaila, 26, and two of his cousins, Jeffrey Gaila, 20, and Miguel Mercadal, 18, all of 5945 Havener House Way in Centreville.

FAIRFAX COUNTY police Det. Lincoln Kieffer of the Criminal Investigation Section provided details of the case in an Aug. 10 affidavit for a warrant to search John Gaila's townhouse, plus a jeep registered to his wife and possibly used by him in the burglary.

He wrote that the Check It Paintball Supplies store at 14511-F Lee Jackson Memorial Highway was burglarized around 2 a.m. The store owner, James Jadryev, estimated the loss at more than $5,000.

He also provided a list of the stolen property, including: Paintball guns and/or parts made by the manufacturer DYE, WDP model Angel compressed air tanks and associated gauges for paintball guns, as well as paintball masks and jerseys.

Shortly after the break-in, wrote Kieffer, a witness "observed a subject running from the store, carrying a paintball gun. [He] followed as the subject ran into a black Jeep Wrangler with a black soft top waiting at a location close by."

Later that day, Kieffer got the surveillance videotape from the 7-Eleven store within the same shopping center as the paintball store. The witness then looked at still photographs of the video and identified a subject in them as wearing a shirt and shorts similar to the clothing worn by the person he'd observed after the burglary.

The date and time recorded on that videotape was July 29 at 1:52 a.m. The detective noted that "this was eight minutes before the break-in." The following week, Kieffer created flyers alerting people about the stolen merchandise and spoke with several paintball merchants and patrons in the region.

Then on Aug. 9, a man contacted him to say that, on Aug. 7, five people entered the PEVS Paintball store in Manassas. "The subjects brought three compressed-air tanks into the store and purchased mounting accessories for the tanks," wrote Kieffer. "Those air tanks matched the detailed description of [the ones] stolen on July 29."

The detective wrote that the suspects arrived at the store in a black Jeep Wrangler with a particular Virginia registration. He then obtained a surveillance tape from the PEVS store, plus credit-card receipt information from the purchases made there. Wrote Kieffer: "The name on the credit card was Rodolfo Gaila."

On the surveillance tape, the detective saw among the five Aug. 7 patrons a man who appeared to be the same person that was in the 7-Eleven store eight minutes before the July 29 burglary.

According to Kieffer, "Investigation revealed that John Gaila had been a patron of PEVS Paintball store" and lived at the Havener House address. He also discovered that the DMV lists Rodolfo Gaila at that address, too, and police determined that John and Rodolfo Gaila are the same person.

"ON JULY 28, a subject claiming to be John Gaila made a purchase by credit card at Check It Paintball at approximately [8:15 p.m.], which is six hours before the break-in [there]," wrote the detective. Then on Aug. 10, Kieffer saw the 1998 Jeep Wrangler used the night of the crime parked in front of the Havener House address.

"I was informed that, on the same day at approximately 12 noon, three of the same subjects showed up at PEVS Paintball," he wrote. "[They were] looking to purchase an owner's manual for a DYE paintball gun similar to the two paintball guns which were stolen."

Police executed the search warrants for Gaila's home and the jeep on Aug. 11. From the Jeep, they seized running shoes and three glass particles.

From the home, they seized a multitude of paintball equipment and paraphernalia, including: Angel, DYE and other brands of air tanks; a backpack with paintball cartridges and holder; a paintball gun; DYE and other brands of masks; paintball jerseys and trousers; another paintball holder and cartridges; padded vests; checkbooks and other documents; paintball catalogs; wallets; athletic shoes; a passport; a handgun and a rifle.

On Aug. 11, police charged John Gaila with burglary, grand larceny, removal of serial numbers and theft with intent to distribute. Jeffrey Gaila and Miguel Mercadal were each charged, Aug. 19, with burglary and receiving stolen property. Here's what's happened since:

* On Oct. 5 in General District Court, Judge Mark Simmons certified the burglary charges against Jeffrey Gaila and Mercadal to the grand jury. Their charges of receiving stolen property were dropped.

* That same date, in another General District courtroom, Judge Lorraine Nordlund reduced John Gaila's grand-larceny charge to receiving stolen property and sent it to the grand jury. His other charges were dropped.

* On Oct. 18, the grand jury indicted both Jeffrey Gaila and Mercadal for burglary, and John Gaila for receiving stolen property.

* Last Monday, Nov. 22, in Circuit Court, John Gaila pleaded guilty as charged, as did Mercadal. Both are scheduled for sentencing, Feb. 25, by Judge M. Langhorne Keith.

* Then on Monday, Nov. 29, Jeffrey Gaila also pleaded guilty in Circuit Court. He's slated to be sentenced Feb. 18 by Judge Dennis Smith.