Coin machine scheme lands man in county jail

A Parkersburg man was sentenced Wednesday to 90 days in the Washington County Jail for his role in a scheme to break into the coin machines at a Belpre car wash.

James M. Ashwell, 22, of 1702 15th St., was caught Sept. 9 by the Belpre Police Department using a walkie-talkie to signal to an accomplice who was allegedly cutting the lock off a coin machine at the Super Splash car wash, located near the Belpre Kroger.

“He was just a lookout,” said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Graham of Ashwell’s involvement in the crime.

Ashwell was indicted in December. The accomplice has not been charged because of lack of evidence, added Graham.

Because Ashwell has been cooperative throughout the investigation, the state was not opposed to community control sanctions, said Graham.

“Additionally, we would not be opposed to an interim jail sentence if it is requested because of the defendant’s cooperation,” she said.

Ashwell’s attorney, Eric Fowler, did request an interim jail sentence for Ashwell, who has been employed since January.

“Where is he employed?” asked Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

Ashwell replied that he works at Little Caesars in Vienna.

“I believe he also has a newborn child,” added Fowler.

Ashwell told Lane that he is remorseful for his actions.

“I made a bad mistake. It was a bad night, and I’m not going to do anything like that again,” he said.

Lane noted that Ashwell did not have much of a prior criminal record.

“There is at least one prior misdemeanor,” pointed out Graham.

That charge of receiving stolen property was the result of an April 2012 indictment which accused Ashwell and another women of cashing a $2,100 stolen check in September 2011. The pair cashed the check for a man who had stolen it from a women he was hired by to install carpet. The fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property was reduced to a first-degree misdemeanor as the result of a plea.

Because he has no prior felonies, Ashwell was not eligible for a prison sentence. Lane sentenced Ashwell to five years of community control and agreed to let him serve 60 days of his 90-day jail sentence intermittently.

“If you still have your job after 30 days, you can apply to serve the rest intermittently,” he said.

Ashwell was also ordered to pay $150 restitution to Super Splash car wash.

“There was no money taken from the machines. I think the cops got there too early. But the lock that was cut cost around $150,” said Graham.