Burglar gets more prison time

By Jane Beathard

July 7, 2014

Convicted burglar Ronald F. Morgan, 28, was sentenced in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Monday to six additional years in prison for allegedly master-minding a series of home break-ins in Franklin and Madison counties in February 2013.

Morgan is already serving three years in Madison Correctional Institution for a 2013 Plain City-area burglary.

Visiting Common Pleas Judge Robert D. Nichols added to the prison time after Morgan admitted to seven additional burglaries in February 2013.

In exchange for the guilty pleas, prosecutor Steve Pronai agreed to dismiss a racketeering charge, a first-degree felony, stemming from Morgan’s role as the alleged leader of a ring of thieves that broke into dozens of central Ohio houses last year.

Pronai also agreed to drop specifications involving elderly victims and gun thefts. Those charges increased Morgan’s potential prison time.

The burglary ring allegedly included Ronald Moore, 36, Debra Riley and Riley’s daughter, Lauren Kehl, 20. Moore is currently serving four years for burglary. Riley pleaded guilty in January to multiple counts of receiving stolen property and is awaiting sentencing. Kehl died of a drug overdose in May 2013.

Morgan initially rejected a plea bargain that combined the Plain City burglary charge with other thefts on Selsor-Moon, Linson, Big Plain-Circleville, Bonner and Old Xenia roads in Madison County, as well as Hyland-Coy and Rings roads in Franklin County. They occurred on Feb. 8, Feb. 11, Feb. 14, Feb. 20 and Feb. 21 last year.

Nichols ordered $13,429 in restitution to the victims. All those involved in the burglary ring will share responsibility.

Common Pleas Judge Eamon Costello and assistant prosecutor Nick Adkins were unable to participate in Monday’s plea hearing since they were involved in previous cases involving Morgan.

In other common pleas court action on Monday:

William Abernathy, 36, of Mount Sterling, was sentenced to eight months in prison for stealing jewelry from his former mother-in-law in September 2013. Abernathy was credited for five months already served in Tri-County Regional Jail.

Aberanthy, an admitted heroin addict, is also facing theft charges in Pickaway County, assistant county prosecutor Nick Adkins said.

In addition to the prison time, Judge Eamon Costello ordered Abernathy to make $145 in restitution to the victim.

James Savage, 40, was charged with eight counts of complicity to theft and check forgery, stemming from incidents between Sept. 27 and Oct. 11, 2013.

Savage is currently serving 21 months in prison for forgeries in Madison and Clark counties.

Costello denied Savage’s request to plead guilty and avoid future court proceedings. The judge appointed Thomas Arrington to represent Savage at a Sept. 11 trial.

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1616 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.