Lowell man gets 5 years for crime spree

A Lowell man, part of a trio charged with an overnight series of burglaries in August 2012, was sentenced to 60 months in prison Friday morning in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Steven E. Knotts, 25, of 233 Main St., pleaded guilty to six of 11 counts related to the Aug. 17 breaking and enterings of a business and at least three residences in the Lowell and New Matamoras areas.

He was originally indicted on three third-degree felony counts of burglary, two fourth-degree felony counts of theft, two fifth-degree felony counts of breaking and entering, one fifth-degree felony count of theft and three first-degree misdemeanor counts of theft.

“I realize what I did was wrong and really am sorry for what I did,” Knotts told Judge Ed Lane prior to his sentencing.

Knotts’ attorney, Eric Fowler, recommended a six-month term at the county jail, but assistant county prosecutor Amy Graham requested at least a two-year term for the defendant.

“Mr. Knotts has terrorized the residents of Lowell-homes were broken into and many items taken,” she said. “It was a one long-night crime spree. And they were reselling those items for a profit.”

Lane said there had also been a possible arson charge against Knotts and his accomplices as the home they entered in New Matamoras reportedly burned to the ground within the same timeframe as the burglary.

“The arson charge could not be proved,” Graham said.

The judge noted Knotts had no prior juvenile or adult record, except for traffic violations, and he had exhibited no pattern of drug or alcohol abuse.

“But the victims of this crime have suffered some considerable economic harm, and multiple offenses were committed,” Lane added. “This court finds prison time consistent for the sentencing.”

He said Knotts was indigent and had no ability to pay restitution for the crime, but ordered the forfeiture of a Jeep Cherokee that was used in the heists as well as three firearms that were found in the vehicle.

The judge also noted no firearms had been used during the break-ins and burglaries.

Once his five-year prison term is completed, Lane said Knotts would be sentenced to a period of community service to help pay off his debt.

Knotts, a 17-year-old juvenile, and 20-year-old Allen J. Grigg, also known as Anthony Johnson, 20, of 731 Center St., Beverly, were accused of breaking into two Lowell homes and a Lowell business, Jerry’s Auto Body, on Aug. 17 and stealing multiple items.

The trio was also charged with stealing more items from outside two other Lowell homes the same night before heading to New Matamoras where they broke into another home at 567 Upper Archers Fork Road

Susan Knotts, 24, wife of Steven Knotts, was also indicted for complicity in all the same charges her husband faced. Her trial is scheduled for July 2.

The burglaries and thefts amounted to thousands of dollars worth of stolen property, an estimated $15,000 of which was recovered by the Washington County Sheriff’s Office after a tip pointed them to Grigg, Knotts and the juvenile.

Grigg and Knotts admitted to the thefts and led officers to a wooded area on Ogles Ridge Road in Noble County where they had hidden the stolen items under tarps and booby-trapped the perimeter with barbed wire.

Graham said most of the stolen items had been recovered since the crime spree occurred.

She said a June 5 trial date originally set for Grigg has been postponed while Grigg is evaluated after pleading not guilty to his charges by reason of insanity.

“We’re waiting on that evaluation before a new trial date can be set,” Graham said.

The juvenile was charged in Washington County Juvenile Court and has reportedly been sent to the Ohio Department of Youth Services.