Former Mount Sterling Village Administrator Joe Johnson remains in jail under $500,000 cash or surety bond, following arraignment in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday.
Johnson, 46, was charged with 30 felony counts, including theft in office, theft, money laundering, tampering with records, failing to file personal income taxes and engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.
He is accused of stealing at least $600,000 in village funds between 2012 and 2016. The case remains under investigation and additional arrests are possible.
The corrupt activity charge is a first-degree felony that could put Johnson in prison for 11 years.
Judge Eamon Costello refused a request by defense attorney Scott Culbert to release Johnson with GPS monitoring, saying the amount of prison time the man faces is “significant.”
Culbert argued his client has no criminal history, no money and no vehicles since three were impounded by investigators following Johnson’s arrest in Jackson County last week.
But special prosecutor Bob Smith called Johnson a flight risk and noted the man does have access to other vehicles. Smith is prosecuting the case for Ohio Auditor of State Dave Yost.
Madison County Sheriff Jim Sabin has called Johnson an “intimidating individual.” Local residents have also posted stories of negative interactions with Johnson on social media.
If the former administrator manages to post bond, he will be under house arrest at his 3203 Camba Road home near Jackson.
Sabin is seeking forfeiture of the property. Proceeds from the sale would go to compensate the village for money lost.
Other defendants arraigned on Wednesday were:
• Connie B. Lane, 31, 15820 Florence Ave., Mount Sterling. Lane is charged with three counts of theft. The alleged crimes took place in April and involved an elderly victim.
Costello released Lane on a signature bond and house arrest. He appointed Shannon Treynor to represent Lane at a Sept. 27 trial.
• Lindsay S. Robnet, 37, 141 S. Warren Ave., Columbus. Robnet is charged with failing to appear for a May 13 hearing on misuse of food stamps and/or WIC. She remains in jail under $2,500 cash bond, pending a Sept. 29 trial.
• Brianna N. Ryan, 19, 250 W. Main St., West Jefferson. Ryan is charged with theft and tampering with records between January and March. She was released on a signature bond, pending a Sept. 29 trial. Danielle Erb was hired to represent Ryan.
• Franklin D. Rinehart, III, 27, 216 Virginia Ave., London. Rinehart is charged with violating the terms of his community control for a June theft conviction.
On July 6, Rinehart admitted to a probation officer that he was using marijuana and other drugs and was considering suicide.
Rinehart remains in Tri-County Regional Jail under a $2,500 cash or surety bond pending an Aug. 12 hearing on the violation. Seth Schertzinger will continue to represent Rinehart.
Jane Beathard is a contributing writer for The Madison Press.