Two confessed thieves who were part of a nine-county Ohio theft ring have been sentenced to probation in Delaware County Common Pleas Court.
Stevie Henry, 26, and Sasha Steele, 24, both of Marion, were sentenced Monday by Judge Everett Krueger. Each were convicted of money laundering, a third-degree felony, and two charges of theft, fifth-degree felonies.
Meanwhile, the accused ringleaders of the theft ring are scheduled to go on trial next week. Prosecutors have alleged that they recruited thieves for the ring by providing drugs.
Henry and Steele were sentenced to four years of community control, commonly referred to as probation.
Krueger said Henry could face up to 24 months in prison if she violates the conditions of her probation and Steele could face up to 36 months in prison for a violation.
Charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, against both women were dropped as part of a plea agreement with prosecutors.
The women are also required to testify against Phillip Roger Burkholder, Wendy Sue Emmons and Emmons’ two sons, Justin and Jordan, when they are tried before a jury next week. The trial is scheduled to begin Tuesday.
Burkholder faces a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony, and three counts of money laundering, third-degree felonies. The Emmonses face charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering and theft.
Prosecutors allege that the group stole from stores in Delaware, Crawford, Seneca, Richland, Marion, Franklin, Morrow, Hancock and Logan counties.
Henry and Steele told Krueger on Monday that the charges stem from incidents in 2015 when they went to a variety of retail stores, filled up shopping carts with small but valuable merchandise, like candy or fishing lures, and left the stores without paying.
The thieves would then go to Forest, Ohio, and allegedly sell the stolen goods to Burkholder, 82, who in turn would sell the stolen goods at auction.
Both women said they would give a cut of their money to Wendy Sue Emmons, 46, a suspected leader of the theft ring who is currently incarcerated at the Ohio Reformatory for Women. Both women said they stole in order to support heroin habits.
Henry told Krueger she was arrested by Marion police before she was charged in the theft-ring case and has been sober and undergoing treatment for her drug addiction since.
Assistant county prosecuting attorney Douglas Dumolt said Henry has taken steps to get back custody of her son and said prosecutors would not be recommending a prison sentence.
Steele’s attorney, Scott A. Wolf, also said Steele is trying to custody of her daughter in Marion.
One other thief in the ring, Michael Jenkins, has already been convicted and sentenced, and a fourth, Brittany Chafin, is scheduled for a change-of-plea hearing on Monday.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903.