Billings father and son charged in thefts of Columbus City Shops, R & H Concrete
A father and son from Billings were arrested last week on felony charges stemming from the theft of vehicles and equipment from the Columbus City Shops and R&H Concrete last December.
Eldon J. Ostermiller, 50, and Joshua J. Ostermiller. 30, both appeared in 22nd Judicial District Court last Thursday and denied two felony counts of theft and two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.
The men had each posted $25,000 bond the previous day.
Judge Blair Jones imposed release conditions on the pair, including 10 p.m. curfews and being prohibited from drinking alcohol or being in businesses that serve alcohol as a primary product. Defense attorney Greg Paskell objected to the condition, arguing that the men run a family construction business and for convenience sake needed to be able to eat lunch in places that might serve alcohol. Paskell also argued that alcohol was not an element in the alleged crimes.
Stillwater County Attorney Nancy Rohde told Jones that there are “underlying issues of drugs in this case.”
According to court documents, a report of a suspicious vehicle trespassing in Yellowstone County led lawmen there to what was referred to as Ostermiller Construction property. Witnesses told authorities that Eldon Ostermiller and another man had driven a white van to the property. Deputies found the van had an R&H Concrete logo that had been spray-painted in an attempt to conceal it, as well as having a side glass door broken out. The van was filled with tools and construction equipment. Deputies ran the license plate, discovered it was owned in Columbus and called Stillwater County dispatch. The owner of the van was contacted and told his van had been stolen but recovered. He estimated the van and equipment was worth $27,000.
As deputies were talking to Stillwater County authorities on the phone, another Ostermiller family member arrived, told them that Eldon did not have permission to be on that property and pointed out an unfamiliar truck hooked to a flatbed trailer on the property, according to court documents.
Those vehicles turned out to belong to the Town of Columbus and had also been stolen, with the logo spray-painted in an attempt to conceal it, according to court documents. In the bed of the truck was construction equipment, a propane tank, an oxygen tank, a large red toolbox and generators.
Deputies processed the scenes and determined the suspects had worn gloves and wiped away finger prints.
In subsequent investigation, Yellowstone County deputies learned that the Ostermillers had moved stolen vehicles from their house and property. A witness also told authorities she had observed the illegal use of meth in the house and that there were chemicals present to make what she “believed to be a meth lab inside a shop on the property,” according to court documents.
Columbus Police Chief Bill Pronovost obtained cell phone records that showed both Eldon and Joshua Ostermiller were in Columbus in the early morning hours of Dec. 8, 2014, according to court documents.