Police looking for alleged chop shop operator

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A Cocke County man indicted on Aug. 8 by a federal grand jury on chop-shop charges – and is wanted on the same charges in state court – remained at large on Saturday, authorities say.

Gary Dale Shults, 40, is a white male. He is 6 feet tall and weighs about 185 pounds. Anyone with information concerning Shults’ whereabouts is encouraged to call the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office at 423-623-3064. All tips will be kept confidential.

The federal grand jury indicted Shults for possession and interstate transport of a stolen vehicle and removing the vehicle-identification number on a 1997 GMC Sierra.

The state and federal charges stem from an April search of Shults’ residence on Chavis Road in the Cosby community of Cocke County.

Officers with the Cocke County Sheriff’s Office, assisted by the Tennessee Highway Patrol Criminal Investigation Division and a THP helicopter, went to the defendant’s home to arrest him for auto theft and failure to appear in court. The investigators found a cut-up vehicle, along with numerous other vehicles and auto parts.

After THP Sgt. Kevin Kimbrough obtained a search warrant, investigators found a 2005 Chevrolet 2500 Duramax that had been reported stolen in Knoxville April 2015.

Two other stolen vehicles discovered on the property, a 2005 GMC Yukon reported stolen in Asheville, North Carolina in November 2014 and a 2012 Lincoln MKZ reported in Cocke County in July 2015, according to officials.

Between December 2014 and February 2016, the defendant allegedly transported the stolen Sierra from North Carolina to Tennessee, removed the VIN plate and replaced it with a different plate, according to the federal indictment.

Man charged after chase

A Newport man faces six charges stemming from a Thursday night pursuit initiated by Cocke County Deputy Sgt. Max Laughter.

Dustin Wayne Bentley, 36, allegedly fled on a stolen Harley-Davidson motorcycle as Laughter and Lt. Chris Gregg were searching for a motorcycle reported stolen in the McGaha Chapel Road area.

Laughter turned on the bike after it passed him on the roadway, but Bentley allegedly fled, running stop signs, before the officers lost sight of as it sped into Sevier County.

A motorist identified Bentley as the rider. Laughter said Bentley had recently been living at a residence on McGaha Chapel Road, where a stolen Harley-Davidson motorcycle was recovered earlier on Thursday. Friday morning, he was taken into custody at his home and charged with evading arrest, reckless driving, driving on a revoked license and failure to obey a traffic device, exercise due care, and yield to an emergency vehicle. His bond was set at $15,000.

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