6 months for theft from elder

A former Lower Salem resident was sentenced Thursday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to six months in jail for siphoning off thousands of dollars from a woman who considered herself a grandparent figure for the man.

Shawn D. Souther, 40, apologized for the crime Thursday and indicated through his attorney, George Cosenza, that he would be paying the full restitution amount – more than $30,000 – that same day.

Souther had begun stealing checks from 93-year-old Faye Spies – who is in the care of Souther’s mother and stepfather – when he was living with her in Lower Salem in June 2013, according to Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider. The crime resulted in a third-degree felony theft indictment which was reduced to a fifth-degree felony via a plea agreement.

“I’d like to apologize to Ms. Spies,” Souther said. “I took advantage of her. It wasn’t right.”

Spies spoke to the court Thursday saying she had a grandmother-grandson relationship with Souther.

“I don’t want him to go to prison. He isn’t a bad man,” she said.

Souther has had a lot of bad breaks, said Spies, and recommended he get counseling.

Though the victim’s age and amount of the theft were discounted when reducing the felony level of the charge, they could be factored into sentencing, argued Schneider.

“My recommendation would be a lengthy jail sentence with community control and restitution,” he said.

Cosenza said Souther is remorseful for his actions.

“Shawn has taken responsibility right from the beginning. I don’t believe a lengthy sentence is necessary here,” he said.

But Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane sentenced Souther to the maximum jail term, six months, saying Souther could use the time to reflect.

“I really do think you need the time,” said Lane.

Souther was also sentenced to five years of community control, addiction and mental health counseling, and the court’s “Thinking For A Change” program. He was ordered to pay $32,031 in restitution, which Cosenza indicated would be paid later that day.