A leader of a nine-county theft ring will be spending more time in prison after a recent sentencing hearing in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Wendy Emmons, 46, formerly of Marion, was sentenced on March 25 to five years in prison by Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger after she pleaded guilty to a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony, at a hearing in February.
Emmons is the final member of the theft ring, which included her two sons, to be sentenced in Delaware County courts.
Emmons is currently serving a two-year sentence at the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville for a Marion County robbery, and will begin serving her new sentence after her current sentence expires in January 2017.
Prosecutors said Emmons — along with her two sons, Justin Emmons, 27, and Jordan Emmons, 24, both of Marion — would get acquaintances addicted to heroin and then force them to steal to support their habits. Prosecutors said the thieves would go to stores, like Wal-Mart or Kroger, fill carts with small but valuable items, like candy or fishing lures, and then leave the stores without paying.
At change-of-plea hearings, the thieves in the group said they would then take the stolen goods to Philip Burkholder, 83, in Forest, Ohio, who would sell the stolen items at auction.
Prosecutors allege the ring is responsible for stealing between $100,000 and $250,000 worth of goods from stores in Delaware, Crawford, Seneca, Richland, Marion, Franklin, Morrow, Hancock and Logan counties.
The eight members of the theft ring were indicted on Sept. 18 by a Delaware County grand jury.
Wendy Emmons was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $48,665.
Justin Emmons and Jordan Emmons also were sentenced to five years in prison after they both pleaded guilty to identical charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity. The brothers were also ordered to pay part of the $48,665 in restitution.
Burkholder was sentenced to four years in prison and ordered to pay part of the restitution for the group. Burkholder’s attorney, Christopher Soon, said Burkholder would be selling his home to pay the restitution.
Britney Chafin, 24, of Columbus, a thief in the group, was sentenced to two years in prison on a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony. She was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $12,302.
The Emmonses, Burkholder and Chafin were also sentenced to three years of post-release probation and can be sent back to prison if they violate terms of their agreements.
The remaining thieves in the group — Michael Jenkins, 32; Stevie Henry, 26; and Sasha Steele, 24 — all were sentenced to four years of probation. All three told Krueger they were in heroin treatment programs and trying to turn their lives around.
Jenkins was also ordered to pay $14,979 in restitution; Henry was ordered to pay $4,463 in restitution; and Steele was ordered to pay $2,500 in restitution.
The investigation was led by the Organized Crime Investigations Commission division of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in connection with several law enforcement agencies, including the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.