New Jersey woman involved in alleged kidnapping, robbery at Colonial Motel pleads guilty to conspiracy

BUCKHANNON – A New Jersey woman involved in an alleged robbery and kidnapping attempt at the Colonial Motel in February 2018 pleaded guilty to felony conspiracy Thursday in Upshur County Circuit Court.

Michaelina K. Sarne, 42, of Sicklerville, New Jersey pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit grand larceny, a felony, via an information in front of 26th Judicial Circuit Court Judge Jacob Reger.

In January 2019, Sarne was indicted by an Upshur County grand jury on conspiracy, kidnapping and first-degree robbery, all felonies.

Sarne was allegedly involved in a plot to travel from New Jersey to West Virginia, along with her daughter, Alayna Puglia, also of New Jersey; Lamere S. Troup, 26, of Camden, New Jersey; and Takiese Naceer Bethea of Camden, New Jersey, for the purpose of stealing money from Frank Hall, Sarne’s brother, according to previous reports.

James Hawkins, Sarne’s attorney, said he and Upshur County Prosecuting Attorney David Godwin had reached an agreement wherein Sarne would plead guilty via information to conspiracy to commit grand larceny, a felony, in exchange for the three felony charges in the indictment being dropped.

Reger ensured Sarne understood her possible penalty – one to five years in the state penitentiary – and that by pleading via an information, she was waiving her right to have the case presented to a grand jury since the charge in the information wasn’t one included in the January indictment.

Reger also asked Sarne what she did that made her guilty of conspiracy to commit grand larceny. Sarne said she; Troup; Bethea; and her daughter, Puglia; traveled to Buckhannon because she believed her brother, Hall, was in possession of an amount of money exceeding $1,000.

“So, you thought he had some money and you were going to get it and that was pretty much it?” Reger asked Sarne.

“Yes,” she replied.

Godwin said on Feb. 22, 2018, Sarne and her daughter, Puglia, rented a room in the Colonial Motel, and Bethea and Troup were also invited into the room. Godwin said Sarne invited her brother, Hall, over with the intention of stealing money from him, and Sarne agreed with Godwin’s description of the events.

According to previous reports, Hall was beaten and stabbed after he denied having money. Godwin said the prosecuting attorney’s office had not yet received copies of Hall’s medical bills, so he was unsure of the amount of restitution, if any, Sarne might owe.

Reger accepted Sarne’s plea, saying he believed there was a substantial factual basis to do so. Earlier that day, Reger agreed to continue Bethea’s sentencing/status hearing until September.

While Puglia and Bethea are free on bond, Troup remains behind bars, having been incarcerated at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail since Feb. 22, 2018.

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