Food pantry burglar sentenced

A Marietta man involved in the June breaking and entering at the Harmar Community Center pleaded guilty and was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court for that and two unrelated theft charges.

Eric G. Sciance, 19, of 114 Sunset Drive, was sentenced to a total of 10 months in the Washington County Jail on three felony charges.

Sciance received four months on a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering at the Harmar Community Center, during which three businesses inside the center were targeted.

He also pleaded guilty and was sentenced Tuesday to three months in jail on a fifth-degree felony count of theft for stealing a carton of cigarettes from the Speedway on Second Street in Marietta while out on bond in September, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

“He took a whole case, which is 320 packs,” said Rings.

Finally, Sciance pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property for ditching a vehicle reported stolen in Parkersburg somewhere in Washington County in October. He received three months on that charge, and all three sentences were ordered to run consecutively, said Rings.

Sciance was one of three men to be indicted in relation to the breaking and entering at the community center, during which more than $4,000 worth of food was stolen from the Gospel Mission Food Pantry.

Though the community rallied to help the food pantry after the break-in, the site was without food to hand out immediately after the theft, recalled pantry director Candy Waite.

“It was a devastating time. I had to look five families in the eyes and tell them I couldn’t feed them that day,” she said.

Sciance is the second to be sentenced in relation to the break-in. Christopher Lent, 26, was sentenced in October to five months in jail on a fifth-degree felony charge of complicity to breaking and entering.

Much of the food from the theft was later discovered at Lent’s apartment at 328 1/2 Gilman Ave., but it had been opened and could not be returned to the pantry.

Waite said she is satisfied with the sentencings so far in the case and places her faith in the criminal justice system.

“I’m satisfied with our court system and with the justice that was served…My prayer is that all the people responsible will repent for their sins and never do this again to anyone, let alone those that were in need,” she said.

Two other organizations in the community center-The Boys and Girls Club and North American Recycling Inc.-were also victims of the breaking and entering. The organizations reported missing tools, electronics, cash and more.

The third suspect in the pantry break-in, William J. Mitchell, 29, of 516 Smith St., Marietta, has yet to plead guilty to any charges. Mitchell, like Sciance, was indicted on three fifth-degree felony counts of breaking and entering in relation to the case.

Waite said she has been subpoenaed to attend Mitchell’s trial, currently scheduled for Jan. 29. It is a day when she should be handing out food at the pantry, she said.

“I don’t know what to do about the food pantry that day, but closing the doors is not an option,” she said.

Sciance was given 135 days credit for time served, said Rings. He was also sentenced to three years of community control. If Sciance violates the terms of his community control, he could be ordered to serve the maximum 42 months in prison on the charges.