Toogood's Husband Has Long Rap Sheet

Fox News Channel/September 27, 2002

Mishawaka, Ind. -- A trove of information has come out in the past two weeks about Madelyne Toogood, the woman caught on surveillance video apparently beating her 4-year-old daughter in an Indiana parking lot.

While Madelyne Toogood has had some brushes with the law, her husband, Johnny Toogood, a.k.a. "John Tuga" and "John James Clark," has a long rap sheet dating back several years and spanning several states.

Johnny Toogood was charged in Philadelphia in 1998 with several counts, including burglary, criminal trespass, theft and conspiracy, in relation to a home-repair roofing scam that targeted four elderly victims.

Toogood pleaded guilty to deception and paid $7,000 in restitution to a 92-year-old victim.

"I'm down on my luck and I just needed money for my family," said Toogood during his confession, according to court documents obtained by Fox News. "It's not right that a lot of people make a lot more money. All the men in my family do this. This isn't a violent crime."

The prosecutor in the Philadelphia case said Toogood basically admitted that these "scams" were how he made money and were a way of life among his relatives.

Madelyne Toogood has said she and her family have been unfairly targeted because they are "Irish Travelers," part of a secretive, nomadic group that travels throughout North America seasonally performing odd jobs, and, according to many local police departments, pulling home-repair scams and other petty confidence schemes.

There are between 7,000 to 20,000 Travelers in the United States, and many more in the British Isles, from where they began immigrating to the U.S. in the mid-19th century.

Based in small towns in South Carolina and Texas, Travelers speak their own Anglo-Gaelic patois, with some Hebrew and Greek words, and according to some anthropologists perform arranged marriages. Their origins are mysterious, though theories link them to pre-Celtic inhabitants of Ireland or European Gypsies.

In the summer of 1999, Johnny Toogood was charged with deceptive practices, a felony, and elder abuse, a misdemeanor, stemming from another alleged home-improvement scam in Whitefish, Mont.

A Whitefish detective told Fox News that Toogood convinced an 83-year-old woman that her roof needed to be fixed and charged her $3,000 more than the market price.

He then skipped town, but was tracked down through his cell phone and arrested in Wyoming on Aug. 12, 1999, where his wife posted a $20,000 bond for him, which he then jumped.

On Jan. 17, 2002, Toogood was arrested in Victoria, Texas, and returned to Montana, where the charge of jumping bail was added to the earlier charges. His trial has been scheduled for early 2003, and Toogood has indicated he plans to represent himself.

Whitefish police told Fox News they are working with the FBI, as well as police in other cities, all of whom are investigating Toogood's background.

The police department in Mishawaka, Ind., where Madelyne Toogood faces the felony charge of battery to a child, has launched a spin-off investigation into the Toogoods' finances, according to Police Chief Anthony Hazen. He has placed four officers on the case full-time.

Fox News has learned that Madelyne Toogood recently had a 2000 Mercedes-Benz and a pickup truck registered in her name. The Toyota Sequoia SUV pictured in the surveillance videotape of the beating is registered to her brother-in-law.

Madelyne Toogood has repeatedly characterized her husband as a reputable businessman.

"My husband is in with the Better Business Bureau ... and he still gets asked to leave places," Madelyne Toogood said during a press conference Sunday. "They still look at him and think he's up to something ... he's got 500 references ... of jobs he has did. And still police will come in and say 'you get outta here, we don't want you people.'"

Madelyne Toogood stressed it would be best if her daughter, Martha, be given back to her or at the very least placed in the care of her husband or another family member.

The girl has been in foster care since her mother surrendered to Indiana authorities on Sunday.

"My husband is devastated. There's no other words," Madelyne Toogood said Sunday. "But if he has to, you know, if he gets custody of Martha, me and him will separate while he -- you know, she is the most important thing right now. Give Martha back with somebody in my family."

To see more documents/articles regarding this group/organization/subject click here.