A real estate agent arrested by Scottsdale police might have burglarized scores of businesses to support his family and a gambling addiction when his company went bust after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, police said Friday.
John Willis Mothershead, 45, of Mesa, was captured April 11 after a security guard said she spotted him at 1:30 a.m. leaving a Scottsdale Airpark business carrying a crowbar, Scottsdale police Sgt. Eric Rasmussen said.
"He yells at her to get out of the way, swings the crowbar at her and hits her," Rasmussen said.
He drove off in a gold 1997 Cadillac DeVille that was parked at 10245 E. Via Linda, and the uninjured 43-year-old guard wrote down the license plate number.
Officers arrested Mothershead 90 minutes later at his home in the 2400 block of South Los Altos in Mesa.
Mothershead has since admitted to burglaries in Scottsdale and Tempe, Rasmussen said.
Detectives believe he could be responsible for up to 70 commercial burglaries in the Valley — based on the amount of false identification, $30,000 in stolen computers and office equipment, and "reams" of business checks and financial papers recovered from his home, car and storage units, Rasmussen said.
Mothershead was booked into Maricopa County’s Madison Street Jail in Phoenix on suspicion of one count of aggravated assault, three counts of burglary and one count of possession of stolen property.
He was released on his own recognizance. Rasmussen said he expects additional charges will be filed, including more burglary counts and check fraud.
Mothershead, a real estate agent in Chandler with no known criminal background, was leading a double life, police said.
His real estate income didn’t support his gambling habit, police said.
"He told his wife he was moonlighting as data entry at night up at the airpark," Rasmussen said.