Paintball Crime: 11 Months Jail

Paintball Crime: 11 Months Jail

Third of three cousins is sentenced.

In February, two Centreville men were sentenced for smashing their way into a Chantilly paintball supplies store and stealing merchandise. Now, the third person involved in the crime — Rodolfo "John" Gaila, also of Centreville — has been sentenced to 11 months in jail.

The incident occurred July 29, 2004, around 2 a.m. The trio broke the front glass door of the Check It Paintball Supplies store at 14511-F Lee Jackson Memorial Highway. And adding that damage to the value of the property stolen, the store owner estimated the loss at more than $5,000.

THE ITEMS taken included: 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.

Participating in the offense with John Gaila, 26, were his cousins Jeffrey Gaila, 20, and Miguel Mercadal, 18, who lived with him at 5945 Havener House Way. And Fairfax County police Det. Lincoln Kieffer presented details of the case in an Aug. 10, 2004 affidavit for a warrant to search John Gaila's townhouse.

Shortly after the break-in, wrote Kieffer, a witness "observed a subject running from the store, carrying a paintball gun." Later that day, Kieffer obtained the surveillance videotape from the 7-Eleven store within the same shopping center as the paintball store.

The witness 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 distributed flyers alerting people about the stolen merchandise and talked to other paintball merchants and patrons in the region.

His efforts paid off. On Aug. 9, a man contacted him and said 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 noted, as well, 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."

He also learned that, on Aug. 10 around 12 noon, three of the same subjects showed up at PEVS Paintball. "[They were] looking to purchase an owner's manual for a DYE paintball gun similar to the two paintball guns which were stolen," wrote the detective.

ON THE PEVS store surveillance tape, Kieffer saw among the five Aug. 7 patrons a man who appeared to be the same person who 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."

Police executed the search warrant for Gaila's home on Aug. 11 and seized a multitude of paintball equipment and paraphernalia. These items included: Angel, DYE and other brands of air tanks; a backpack with paintball cartridges and holder; a paintball gun; and DYE and other brands of masks.

They also seized: 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. 10, Kieffer saw the 1998 Jeep Wrangler used the night of the crime parked in front of the Havener House address. So on Aug. 16, he requested another search warrant for the Jeep "for any trace evidence — to include glass particles/fragments that might have been transferred from the scene of the crime to the interior of the vehicle." The next day, at 9:15 a.m., the search warrant was executed, and police seized three particles of glass.

Meanwhile, 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. Their stolen property charges were later dropped, and John Gaila's grand-larceny charge was reduced to receiving stolen property. In November, all three men pleaded guilty in Circuit Court.

On Feb. 18, Jeffrey Gaila was given a suspended sentence and placed on probation. On Feb. 25, Mercadal received 14 days in jail. And between them, they were ordered to pay nearly $3,000 restitution for the damage they caused.

Then last Friday, March 25, Circuit Court Judge M. Langhorne Keith sentenced John Gaila to 11 months in jail. He also ordered him to maintain full-time employment upon his release, pay restitution and perform 50 hours of community service.