Ohio’s sentencing laws will prevent Logan County Common Pleas Judge Mark S. O’Connor from sentencing Robert G. Horney Jr. to prison, even though the 45-year-old Marysville insurance agent pleaded guilty to nine criminal charges.
Logan County Chief Assistant Prosecutor Eric Stewart explained the state legislature took away judicial discretion for first-time nonviolent offenders accused of fourth- and fifth-degree felonies.
Even in an egregious case such as this, Mr. Stewart said, “The law says he can’t be sent to prison. The legislators have bound the judges’ hands.”
Mr. Stewart said he has testified on behalf of Ohio House Bill 251 which would restore judicial discretion in such cases. It remains in committee.
Mr. Horney was charged in a 13-count indictment last August. SEE STORY: UPDATE: Insurance agent faces theft, forgery, fraud charges
Monday, he pleaded guilty to theft from elderly, a fourth-degree felony; two counts of theft from elderly, fifth-degree felonies; grand theft, a fourth-degree felony; insurance fraud, a fifth-degree felony; theft, a fourth-degree felony; and three counts of theft, first-degree misdemeanors.
In exchange, prosecutors agreed to drop four charges, but asked the court to impose a local jail term before placing the defendant on community control for five years.
The defendant also agreed to pay more than $21,500 in restitution.
In March 2013, fraud investigators with the Ohio Department of Insurance contacted detectives of the Logan County Sheriff’s Office regarding the defendant’s activity.
As part of Monday’s plea, the defendant admitted he provided clients with paperwork showing they had insurance coverage, but their payments were never forwarded by the suspect to the insurers.
He mainly targeted older farmers, authorities say.
If a claim was made on the bogus policies, the defendant declared he merely forgot to send in the payment and filed a claim under his business insurance coverage to cover the loss.
He will be sentenced at 1:45 p.m. June 2.
In other cases:
• Anthony Johnson, 29, of Bellefontaine, admitted he violated probation on a conviction of nonsupport and charges of burglary and obstruction of justice were dropped as part of the agreement.
He has a job and will continue with probation.
• Cody Predmore, 23, of Zanesfield, pleaded guilty to illegal conveyance of a controlled substance into a detention facility.
Prosecutors recommended prison time, but he was placed on community control for five years and ordered to complete a treatment term at West Central Community Corrections Facility.
• Kara Anderson, 31, of Bellefontaine, pleaded guilty to possession of cocaine, fifth-degree felony. She will be sentenced June 2.
• Donovan Boddie, 28, of Springfield, pleaded guilty to two counts trafficking of heroin, one a fifth-degree felony and the other a fourth-degree felony, and two counts of complicity to trafficking, one a fifth-degree felony and the other a fourth-degree felony.
He admitted to selling heroin to a confidential informant with children present and compelling a codefendant to sell heroin to other informants with children present.
He will be sentenced June 2.