Man pleads guilty to theft during home break-in

A Fleming man pleaded guilty Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to stealing several thousands of dollars worth of items from the home of an acquaintance in Belpre.

Michael A. Shotwell, 28, pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony count of theft. He had initially been indicted in May on the theft charge plus a second-degree felony count of burglary and a third-degree felony count of burglary.

“For the plea to (the theft), the state agrees to dismiss (the burglaries)” said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Graham.

Shotwell is accused of climbing through a bedroom window in order to break into the Blennerhassett Avenue home of Angela Rhodes sometime between Sept. 16 and Sept. 17, 2011.

Shotwell, who then lived at 1490 Club Drive, Washington, W.Va., was an acquaintance of Rhodes. However, the two were not romantically involved as was previously reported, said Graham.

Shotwell stole a variety of items, from flat screen televisions and computers to game systems and jewelry, she said. In the initial indictment, even paper towels were listed among the stolen items.

Restitution was not part of the plea agreement. However, Shotwell could be ordered to pay restitution as part of his sentencing, said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

All told the damage was more than $18,000, she said.

The insurance covered some, but not all of the losses, said Graham.

“I believe (the victim) plans on asking for restitution,” she said.

Lane accepted Shotwell’s guilty plea and ordered him to undergo a handful of evaluations prior to sentencing.

“Were drugs or alcohol a factor?” asked Lane.

Shotwell’s attorney, Dennis Sipe, said that drugs and alcohol were a factor at the time of the theft in 2011, but were no longer a problem.

“That was an issue at that time. He’s engaged in his own treatment and given it up,” said Sipe.

Lane still ordered that Shotwell undergo an evaluation at L&P Services to determine if he would be a good candidate for their addiction counseling services.

Shotwell faces a maximum of 18 months in prison on the fourth-degree felony.

However, he has no prior felonies, said Graham. Ohio sentencing guidelines does not allow fourth- or fifth-degree felony offenders to receive prison time unless they have prior felonies or break a condition of their bond.

Shotwell is set to be sentenced at 8:15 a.m. April 26.