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Ex-Johnson County man wanted on theft, fraud charges believed to be in West Virginia

Kanawha County asking for public's help in locating John Bragg
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Posted at 9:32 AM, Feb 08, 2023

Charleston, WV — A sheriff’s office in West Virginia is asking for the public’s help in located a man currently wanted in Johnson County on fraud and theft charges.

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, however, Bragg still has not been arrested.

Authorities believe he is currently 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.

He is currently wanted for questioning “regarding defrauding cases of Kanawha County residents,” according to the release.

Although Bragg claimed to be named "JB Goode" and the owner of JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod, it was actually his significant other, Melanie Goode, who owned the shop, court documents allege.

“Detectives from Johnson County Sheriff’s Office made contact with Melanie Goode in Charleston, West Virginia in late December 2022 at which time they spoke with Bragg over the phone," read the release from Kanawha County. “Bragg claimed to be working out of town and would be turning himself in to Indiana authorities in the coming days.”

Bragg never turned himself in.

Records show he 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.

“Bragg is still wanted for outstanding warrants and Florida and is wanted for questioning in West Virginia,” read the release. “Bragg is believed to be staying in Kanawha County or the surrounding area.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective B.S. Middleton, Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigative Section.

To provide information anonymously, you may log onto https://www.kanawhasheriff.us/ and submit an anonymous tip by choosing “Tip Line” under the quick links tab.

WRTV Investigates stopped by the shop in July and found unfinished cars sitting outside and cars and office equipment inside.

But the door was locked, and no one was inside.

Posted on the door was a letter dated June 17 stating the shop is in breach of its commercial lease agreement.

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Customers say they haven’t been able to get in touch with the business for months, including Diane Kuhn of Fairland.

Customers say they haven’t been able to get in touch with the business for months.

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.”

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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.

Kuhn contacted the Indiana Attorney General’s office as well as the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office told WRTV in August it has received 30 complaints about JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod.

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.”

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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.

WRTV Investigates did some checking and found JB Goode’s name is actually John Edmond Bragg.

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WRTV Investigates checked Indiana court records and found John Bragg was 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 2021.

JB Bugs Trick Truck N Rod of Indy is the assumed business name for an entity named Palm Principles, LLC, for which Melanie Goode is listed as the registered agent.

JB Goode and John Bragg are not listed on any of the documents, but customers and court records allege Melanie Goode is JB Goode’s significant other.

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WRTV Investigates called every phone number and emailed every email address we could find for Melanie Goode and JB Goode, also known as John Bragg.

We also stopped by the Whiteland shop and their Greenwood home, but we’ve been unable to reach them.

Kuhn said her Beetle remains in Tennessee where JB’s former coworker is working on finishing it.

She said she’s hopeful she will get her vehicle back soon and will drive down south to get it, if necessary.

“I will pull it back in pieces,” said Kuhn. “I don’t think I’ll have to do that, but if I do, I do.”