A 29-year-old Belleview man was arrested by the Marion County Sheriff’s Office after he was accused of stealing a tractor and attempting to sell it online.
On Monday, November 21, an MCSO deputy responded to Fernview Farm located at 14978 S U.S. Highway 301 in Summerfield in reference to a theft.
Upon arrival, the deputy made contact with the female owner of the business who advised that multiple items had been stolen, including a 2021 John Deere 3038E tractor ($27,000 value) and a John Deere bush hog attachment ($30,000 value), according to the MCSO report.
On Monday, December 12, the owner/victim received information that the stolen tractor was possibly located in the 11200 block of SE 121st Lane Road. The victim and one of her relatives responded to the location and observed a tractor that appeared to match the victim’s stolen tractor.
According to the MCSO report, the victim contacted the sheriff’s office and advised that a white male with a medium build and face tattoos was observed riding a tractor that looked just like the stolen tractor.
An MCSO lieutenant arrived on scene and made contact with the man who was riding the tractor. He was identified in the MCSO report as Patrick Michael Cotton.
According to MCSO, a records check of the tractor confirmed that it was the same tractor that had been stolen from Fernview Farm.
An MCSO corporal arrived at the location of the tractor and made contact with the victim. She told the corporal that the stolen tractor had been listed for sale on a Facebook page for $8,000.
The victim told the corporal that she had screenshots of the Facebook ad for the stolen tractor, which had been created by Cotton. She also advised that she had screenshots of a text message conversation between Cotton and a man she knew who had initially alerted her to the existence of the Facebook ad.
The corporal viewed the victim’s screenshots and observed a Facebook ad that was posted by a profile belonging to Cotton. According to the MCSO report, the Facebook ad stated that the 2021 John Deer 3038E tractor was running great, had 375 hours on it, and included a bale fork attachment and bush hog. The tractor was listed for sale for $8,000.
While the corporal was on scene, a man approached and advised that he had seen Cotton driving the stolen tractor. The man claimed that Cotton approached him on December 8 or December 9 and offered to trade the tractor for the man’s pickup truck.
The man told the corporal that he became suspicious because the truck was worth $1,000 and he knew that the tractor was worth “significantly more.” According to the man, Cotton had been in possession of the tractor for around one to two weeks.
The corporal later made contact with Cotton. After being read his Miranda rights, Cotton claimed that he had purchased the tractor for $5,000 from a woman named “Erica.” He stated that Erica had told him that the tractor was not stolen.
Cotton told the corporal that he is a diesel mechanic and is “very familiar with diesel engines and tractors.” He admitted that the victim’s tractor was worth “approximately $40,000 with the attachments.”
Cotton confirmed that he did talk to a man in person about selling the tractor for $8,000, and he had considered trading it for a truck with an inoperable motor. He admitted to the corporal that the tractor may have been stolen, though he claimed that he took Erica’s word that it was not stolen when he had purchased it from her.
During the interview, Cotton also told the corporal that he had checked the tractor’s vehicle identification number (VIN), which did not show that it had been reported stolen.
Cotton stated that he possessed a bill of sale for the tractor, though he advised that he did not have any further paperwork regarding the vehicle.
Cotton was arrested, transported to Marion County Jail, and he was later released on $7,000 bond. He is facing felony charges for grand theft of a motor vehicle and dealing in stolen property.
A court date has been scheduled at 9 a.m. on Tuesday, January 17, 2023, according to jail records.