Man sentenced in storage unit thefts

A Parkersburg man who got drunk and broke into a handful of Devola area storage units with his girlfriend was sentenced Friday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to six months in jail but will be eligible to leave early for the SEPTA program.

Kenneth E. Fluharty, 47, of 601 West Virginia Ave., was sentenced on a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering.

Fluharty and 37-year-old Lori F. Smith, of 1743 Seventh St., Parkersburg, used bolt cutters to enter a handful of storage units at Triple H Storage on March 5, 2013, said Washington County Prosecutor Kevin Rings.

“They got drunk and looked for some stuff to steal. So they found a storage facility,” he said.

The pair mostly stole tools from the storage units, said Rings.

The storage facility uses video cameras, and footage of the vehicle shown on the news garnered a lot of public tips leading to the arrest of Fluharty and Smith, he added.

Smith already pleaded guilty to the same fifth-degree felony charge and was sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Rings recommended a 90-day sentence for Fluharty, pointing out he was ineligible for a prison sentence. He has no prior felony convictions.

Fluharty’s attorney, Randall Jedlink, said the event served as a wakeup call for Fluharty, who has since ceased drinking.

“He’s got a very light record. He’s got a big drinking problem. He doesn’t even remember all of the details because he was drinking at the time,” Jedlink said of the incident.

Fluharty’s prior record includes a 1989 drunk driving offense in Florida, a 2001 petty larceny charge, a 2013 marijuana possession charge and a probation violation on the Florida OVI charge, which was the source of some discussion.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane said the probation violation showed Fluharty had misbehaved when given community control in the past.

However, it was the current breaking and entering charge and not a past crime that triggered the probation violation on the decades old charge, said Jedlink.

“He’s been on probation for 24 years?” Lane questioned .

The violation could have something to do with Fluharty’s driver’s license, said Jedlink.

Lane agreed with Rings that prison was not an option and sentenced Fluharty to six months in the county jail.

“You can take the first bed available at the SETPA Center after 90 days. I expect you to take that bed and complete the program,” said Lane.

Addiction counseling is one of many services provided to inmates at the SEPTA Correctional Facility in Nelsonville.

Despite multiple attempts to contact the victims, including storage unit owners, no one had requested restitution, so none was ordered, said Lane.