On Monday in the Scioto County Common Pleas court of Judge William Marshall, Debra L. Evans, 36, Roule “Eddie” Damron, 32, and Tony L. McKenzie, 39, all entered guilty pleas to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activities for thefts from Lowe's and Wal-Mart stores in southern Ohio, northern Kentucky and West Virginia.
Evans and Damron were sentenced to eight years in prison. McKenzie will be sentenced on May 18. None of the defendants had any prior felony arrests.
According to the indictments, the three defendants would have people steal items from the stores and then Evans and Damron would place the items for sale on e-Bay.
Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Julie Hutchinson added that the thieves were often paid in drugs.
“This was a major theft ring which involved the theft and disposition of DVDs, electronic equipment, tools, lawn and garden equipment, and other items stolen from large retail stores,” Hutchinson said. “Several of the people who actually stole the items are serving prison terms from other counties for property stolen and brought to these defendants here in Scioto County.”
As part of the plea agreement, the defendants will forfeit to the state of Ohio four parcels of residential real estate in Portsmouth, five vehicles, several firearms and approximately $5,000 in cash.
Prosecutor Mark Kuhn said his office has been able to use Ohio's corrupt activities statute in several cases in the past year.
“It's an effective tool against crime rings and provides forfeiture of property as a penalty.”
The investigation of the corrupt activities case was spearheaded by the Portsmouth Police Department with the cooperation of the New Boston Police Department and the Prosecuting Attorney's Office.
MARK SHAFFER can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 235.