A former sergeant at Hill Air Force Base charged with stealing and then reselling three cars has pleaded guilty in 2nd District Court to three misdemeanor theft charges.

Mark D. Sexton, 23, is scheduled for sentencing March 12 on the three charges, each of which carries a jail term of up to six months.Sexton was originally charged with 10 felony counts ranging from racketeering and forgery to receiving and transferring stolen property. Some of the felonies were dismissed in a preliminary hearing in circuit court and others were amended as details in the case emerged, according to prosecutors.

Prosecutor Carvel Harward said he and defense attorney Ron Yengich eventually settled on three misdemeanor theft charges in return for Sexton explaining the details of how he carried out the thefts and vehicle identification changes.

The expense and complexity of prosecuting the case, which would have involved bringing in numerous out of state witnesses and tracking down paperwork in several states also led to the plea bargain, Harward said.

According to Harward, Sexton in 1988 and 1989 stole three new Jeep vehicles from lots in Layton, Bountiful, and Ogden, hiding them in his garage.

Sexton obtained dashboards with vehicle identification numbers from wrecked Jeeps in a salvage yard in Michigan, switching the dashboards to the stolen cars.

He then registered the stolen Jeeps as salvaged vehicles and sold them for about $17,000 each. The ruse was discovered when an investigator from Utah Department of Motor Vehicles became suspicious and examined one of the "salvage" vehicles.

The investigator checked a hidden identification number Sexton neglected to change and found it matched that of Jeep reported stolen in Bountiful in 1989.