OHIO VALLEY — Officials in Gallia and Meigs counties are seeking information that may lead to the apprehension of a Nitro man wanted for passing thousands of dollars in bad checks.
Joseph Christopher “Joey” Hajj, 32, of Nitro, W.Va., is wanted for passing bad checks in West Virginia, Ohio, Georgia and Kentucky according to Sgt. Dan Leonard with the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office.
Leonard said that the checks appear to be from a business — such as BA Contracting, Johnson Construction or JJ Construction — and the address on the some of the checks have been from Nitro, W.Va.
The checks appear to be legitimate, and were likely made by the suspect, according to Leonard.
Hajj is wanted in Meigs County on a charge of felony theft by deception.
The suspect is also wanted in West Virginia for allegedly passing bad checks to obtain a 2012 white Dodge Ram in Beckley.
According to a report filed with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, the stolen truck from Beckley was observed on Monday at a residence on Quail Creek Drive in Green Township, Gallia County.
Gallia County deputies later responded to investigate the area, and, reportedly, the officers were later informed that a white male had run out the back door of the home on Quail Creek upon their arrival. This man was later identified as Hajj.
The truck parked at the residence was towed from the scene.
According to the report, officers discovered fake checks Hajj allegedly used to purchase items from local businesses within the vehicle. The truck was inventoried and the items inside kept as evidence, and officials in Beckley, W.Va., were notified of the vehicle’s recovery.
A second report filed with the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office also lists Hajj as a suspect in the alleged theft of an ATV on December 20, 2012.
According to the report, Hajj had written a check in the amount of $9,113.73 last Thursday afternoon to Kawasaki Motor Sports located on Ohio 160 in Gallia County for a 2012 Green Kawasaki ATV.
After the suspect left the store with the ATV, the owner of the dealership reportedly contacted the bank listed on the check and was advised by bank employees that the check was fraudulent. He then contacted the sheriff’s office to advise deputies of the stolen vehicle.
A copy of the check attached to the police report is written out to Kawasaki Motor Sports. The business printed at the top of the check is J & J Construction with a listed address of 1825 Industrial Drive of Columbus, Ohio. The bank listed on the check is Peoples Bank of Marietta, Ohio.
At the time of this incident, Hajj was reportedly driving the 2012 white Dodge pickup allegedly stolen from Beckley, W.Va., and later located and confiscated on Quail Creek Drive by deputies.
The ATV remains missing, according to the report.
Hajj is further wanted in Gallia County for failing to appear for a pre-trial settlement conference on October 17.
Hajj was indicted by a grand jury in the Common Pleas Court of Gallia County after he allegedly passed a check in the amount of $51,888 to John Sang Ford of Gallipolis on February 28, 2012.
He was arrested on July 23 and appeared before Gallia County Common Pleas Judge D. Dean Evans on July 27 for an arraignment hearing.
During the hearing, a $10,000 own recognizance bond with an additional $1,500, 10 percent bond was set. Bond was posted for Hajj’s release on August 24.
A warrant was later issued after the defendant failed to appear for a conference this October.
The indictment filed in this case lists Hajj’s address as 1675 Augusta Road, Thompson, Ga. However, paperwork later filed in this case lists the defendant’s new address as 147 Main Avenue, Nitro, W.Va.
According to the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office, Hajj has contacts in the Rodney, Ohio, area. He is described as 5-feet, 7-inches tall, around 180 pounds, with hazel eyes, black hair and a goatee.
According to media reports published in the spring of this year, Hajj is also wanted in Kentucky and Georgia for grand larceny of an auto and a probation violation in Georgia. There are also, reportedly, seven warrants for his arrest in West Virginia.
The Gallia County and Meigs County Sheriff’s Offices urge local business owners to be cautious when accepting checks written for large amounts.
Anyone having information on Hajj is asked to please call the Gallia County Sheriff’s Office tip-line at (740) 446-6555 or the Meigs County Sheriff’s Office at (740) 992-3371.
Local law enforcement are advising that, while it is not known if Hajj is armed, the public should be cautious and should not attempt apprehension but should contact law enforcement if Hajj is spotted.