Thief confronted by armed owner is sentenced to serve time in jail

A Marietta man confronted with a homeowner with a gun while trying to steal scrap items in Lowell was sentenced Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 34 days in jail.

Gerald R. Erb, 42, pleaded guilty May 24 to breaking and entering, a fifth-degree felony.

Erb and 34-year-old Jamie A. Hoy, both of 149 Warner St., were allegedly loading property from a Lowell garage into their vehicle on Sept. 21 when the home’s owner came into the garage and confronted the couple with a gun, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Amy Graham.

“He came out with a gun and made them unload it all,” said Graham.

The resident of the Ohio 60 home, Richard Tingler, had parked his vehicle behind his home that day and did not answer when Erb and Hoy knocked on the door because his home had been burglarized the previous day.

“He was home waiting with a gun,” Graham said.

Erb and Hoy were able to get away when Tingler went to answer his phone, but he had already taken down their license plate.

The two were each originally indicted on a third-degree felony count of attempted burglary.

Erb was allowed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and charges against Hoy were dropped as part of a plea agreement that would guarantee some restitution for Tingler for the previous day’s theft.

Erb and Hoy were suspects in that theft, said Graham, but it would be hard to prove they were the culprits.

The $395.89 restitution figure came from the amount Erb had received scrapping the suspected stolen items at a local scrap yard, said Graham.

“I have a receipt from the local scrap yard and that’s how much (Erb) got,” she said.

On top of the restitution, Erb was ordered to spend 34 days in the Washington County Jail with credit for four days served.

However, Erb’s attorney Nancy Brum asked that he be allowed to begin his sentence Friday or Monday.

“His father is having prostate surgery (Thursday) here at Marietta Memorial Hospital. We’d ask to delay it just so he can be present at his father’s surgery,” she said.

Graham did not object and Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth ordered Erb report to the jail Friday evening.

Erb will also be subject to three years of community control sanctions and will be required to undergo evaluation for the court’s “Thinking For A Change” program, a cognitive behavioral change program developed by The National Institute of Corrections.