Beaufort, NC — A man wanted in Johnson County on fraud and theft charges has been arrested in Beaufort, North Carolina.
A WRTV Investigation revealed John Bragg, 45, worked at a Whiteland restoration shop JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod and is accused of taking customers’ money but not doing the work or providing vehicles they paid for.
Johnson County prosecutors filed criminal theft and fraud charges against Bragg in October 2022 following our investigation.
Officials were looking for Bragg for several months and he was believed to be in West Virginia.
On February 7, the Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office in West Virginia issued a news release asking for the public’s help in locating Bragg.
Bragg was wanted for questioning “regarding defrauding cases of Kanawha County residents,” according to the release.
On Saturday, March 4, 2023, the Beaufort Police Department received an anonymous tip detailing the whereabouts of Bragg.
"Bragg has been living in Beaufort for approximately 3 months and working in the construction trade under the assumed name of John Keliher," read a news release from the Beaufort North Carolina Police Department. "A search of his apartment revealed evidence connecting him to crimes in Indiana and West Virginia as well as frauds he is being investigated for in Beaufort."
Investigators have identified three victims so far in Beaufort in which Bragg entered into contracts to perform work, received deposits and did not produce any work or materials, the Beaufort Police Department said.
"If you feel you have been the victim of Mr. Bragg aka John Keliher's schemes, please contact Detective Troy Edwards at the Beaufort Police Department at (252) 728-4561," the agency said in a news release Monday.
In Johnson County, consumers say Bragg claimed to be named "JB Goode" and the owner of JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod. However, it was actually his significant other, Melanie Goode, who owned the shop, court documents allege.
Bragg is also now charged in Kanawha County West Virginia with obtaining money, property, and service by false pretenses.
He's accused of trying to sell a mobile home, which he did not own.
"The victim paid Bragg a down payment of $10,000.00 before learning he did not own the mobile home," said the Kanawha County Sheriff's Office in a news release to WRTV. " After the fraud was discovered, Bragg allegedly disappeared and stopped responding to calls / messages."
Records show Bragg was convicted of organized fraud in Walton County, Florida in December 2020 and is serving five years of probation.
He defrauded his Florida victim of more than $40,000 after telling her he was an attorney retiring due to brain cancer, according to the arrest warrant affidavit.
WRTV Investigates checked Indiana court records and found John Bragg was also convicted of theft in Johnson County in 2007, and in 2009, convicted of fraud and bigamy in Hancock County.
Records show Melanie Goode registered JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod with the Indiana Secretary of State’s office in January 2022.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office told WRTV in August it has received 30 complaints about JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod.
Diane Kuhn bought a bright yellow 1971 Volkswagen Super Beetle convertible from a friend.
“It’s my bucket list car,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn wanted her vehicle restored and took it to a Morristown shop, but partway through the restoration process, the shop was bought out by JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod.
Kuhn said a man named “JB Goode” contacted her and identified himself as the owner of the shop.
“My first contact with JB was July 2021 when he called me,” Kuhn said. “We talked about what I wanted done with the car and he said, 'We can do all the work you're wanting done on your car between $12-$15,000.' I told him to go ahead.”
Kuhn said JB told her they required half the money down as a deposit.
Records show Kuhn paid the shop $10,500.
“We decided to go ahead, that way it was less to come up with later,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said JB took in her vehicle for restoration in July 2021.
“I left him alone until October,” Kuhn said.
Kuhn said JB told her the vehicle was scheduled to be worked on.
“That was always his excuse — he said, ‘it's on the books, it's on the books, it's on the books,’” said Kuhn.
In a bizarre turn of events, Kuhn said JB took her vehicle to another shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee where it still remains.
"I want my car back,” Kuhn said. “I want it done the way I wanted it done and I want to be able to drive it.”
Kuhn has been waiting for more than a year for her dream car to be finished.
“This has been the worst experience and most drawn-out thing I've ever been involved in,” Kuhn said.
Darci Bell of Bedford bought a 1965 Volkswagen bus with her husband.
Records show she paid JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod $14,000, which was about half of the total cost of the restoration.
“He did not do anything,” Bell said. “We can’t even get ahold of JB.”
Bell said JB also took her vehicle to the Chattanooga shop without her knowledge.
“We just happened to see it when they posted pictures. We saw it in the background,” said Bell. “We were a little aggravated."
Darci Bell grew frustrated with the delays.
“We just kept getting the runaround,” Bell said. “It was just excuse after excuse.”
So, they traveled to Chattanooga to take home their van, and Bell claims it’s in even worse shape now.
She has not received a refund.
“It’s sickening,” Bell said.
Johnson County Sherriff's Department confirmed the arrest of Bragg in North Carolina but there is no word on when he'll be back in Johnson County.
This is a developing story.