MILLERSBURG -- An Akron man on Wednesday avoided prison for a 2014 theft of excavating parts from a Saltcreek Township residence.
Chris W. Nickolas Jr., 38, of 363 Vaughn Trail, previously pleaded guilty in Holmes County Common Pleas Court to a reduced count of theft. It was initially charged as a fourth-degree felony because the victim is 76 years old, making him a member of a protected class.
Since committing the offense, Nickolas has been convicted of similar offenses in neighboring counties. He also has failed to cooperate with court personnel, repeatedly providing inaccurate addresses.
And, while Judge Robert Rinfret said he was inclined to impose a prison term, he also gave consideration to the request of the victim, who sought only restitution, which Nickolas paid when he arrived at court.
"Your record screams of someone who is a con man," said Rinfret, adding, "If you do anything at all, commit a new crime or test positive (for drugs or alcohol), you'll go to prison. You're getting a break -- because you paid restitution and the victim did not want prison."
Rinfret, subsequently, placed Nickolas on three years of community control sanctions, to include one year of electronically monitored house arrest. All but 30 days of an 180-day jail sentence were suspended, and Nickolas was ordered to serve his time on 15 consecutive weekends. Rinfret also made part of the official record a restitution order for $2,859.
He warned Nickolas any violations would trigger the imposition of a 12-month prison term.
"Don't screw it up or you'll go to prison for the entire year," Rinfret said.
The charge stems from an incident occurring on Oct. 10, 2014. That's when Nickolas reportedly drove onto the property, located along state Route 241, and took excavator parts, later scrapped for cash by Nickolas, from the yard, according to Chief Deputy Richard Haun of the Holmes County Sheriff's Office.
Nickolas was later identified when a license plate number, captured by the victim's son, who saw him on the property, tracked back to Nickolas.
Reporter Christine Pratt can be reached at 330-674-5676 or email@example.com.