GREENVILLE — A Missouri man pleaded guilty to charges of theft, a first-degree misdemeanor, in Darke County Common Pleas Court Thursday. Judge Jonathan P. Hein presided.
Zachary Ward was initially charged with two counts of theft and one count of forgery, charges carrying a combined penalty of up to six months’ incarceration. The additional counts were dismissed, however, in accordance with a plea agreement between Ward and the Darke County Prosecutor’s Office.
Darke County Assistant Prosecutor Jesse Green suggested leniency when asked to address the court regarding sentencing.
“The defendant’s always been forthcoming about the fact that he took this money,” Green said. “In fact, he said he wanted to get caught so he could get into rehab.”
Ward admitted to stealing approximately $6,000 from his father-in-law in July and August of 2016. He has since relocated to Missouri but was arrested there and returned to Darke County for Thursday’s court appearance. He has since made restitution for the funds he stole, according to Green.
Attorney Randall Braeden appeared for the defense. Braeden asked the court to forego post-release supervision restrictions for his client and allow him to return to Missouri.
“Mr. Ward no longer has any connections in Darke County,” Braeden said. “I don’t see any need to supervise him here, and I don’t think Missouri would be willing to supervise him on our behalf.”
Ward expressed similar sentiments.
“I’ve been clean for two years,” he said. “I’ve got a newborn son. I don’t get in trouble, and I never did except for that one time. I wanted to get caught because I didn’t want to live that way, and I will not go back to that.”
“That would probably serve everybody best,” Judge Hein told the defendant.
Hein sentenced Ward to 60 days in jail, with 25 days credit for time served and 35 suspended. If Ward engages in illegal activity within the next 12 months, he could potentially be returned to Darke County to serve out the remainder of his sentence.
“Everybody makes the decision every day whether to live lawfully or not,” Hein said. “You’re doing well now and don’t seem like you need a lot of attention, but if you go to a different place in life and do need more attention, this allows us to reel you in and try to set things right.”