A former employee accused of burglarizing the American Legion Post 64 in May pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to five felony charges and was sentenced to 90 days in the Washington County Jail.
Dustin W. Slagle, 20, of 610 1/2 Second St., Marietta, pleaded guilty to a third-degree felony count of tampering with evidence and four fifth-degree felonies-theft, breaking and entering, vandalism and possession of criminal tools.
Sometime overnight May 1, Slagle broke into the American Legion at 812 Beverly Place (near Eighth and Wooster streets in Marietta) and stole more than $1,000 from an ATM and two metal lock boxes. A former employee of the club, Slagle had keys to the building but broke a glass door to gain entry.
JASMINE ROGERS The Marietta Times
Dustin Slagle, left, sits with attorney Randall Jedlink as Slagle pleads guilty and is sentenced on five felony charges in Washington County Common Pleas Court Wednesday.
"He gained access to the building by throwing a brick through the glass door," said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb.
Use of the brick resulted in the possession of criminal tools charge. The broken front door also contributed to the vandalism charge, although other parts of the building suffered damage as well, said Erb.
"There was extensive damage to the inside including the video poker machines and other doors that were broken," he said.
Once inside, Slagle retrieved cash from an ATM and took two metal lock boxes. One lock box was found discarded in a nearby wooded area. The disposal of the box resulted in the tampering with evidence charge.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, five other charges surrounding the event were dismissed. Those included three fourth-degree felony counts of safecracking and two other fifth-degree felony counts of possession of criminal tools.
Restitution was not yet available because the American Legion has yet to respond to inquiries from the county victims assistance advocate, said Erb.
"My office has contacted the Legion, but to my knowledge they haven't gotten back to us," he said.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth ordered that the restitution could be added into the sentencing entry if both the defense and prosecution could come to an agreement soon. If not, a later hearing could be scheduled to discuss the figure.
Slagle's father, Randy Messer Jr., 41, of 610 1/2 Second St., was also charged in the American Legion incident.
Messer, who is currently incarcerated in the Lorain Correctional Institution on 11 fifth-degree felony charges, was indicted in July on a fifth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property.
When the Marietta Police Department searched Slagle and Messer's shared home, they recovered stolen cash in a rain gutter and a sofa inside the home.
Messer will be brought back to Washington County to be arraigned on the local charge on Oct. 15.
In addition to Slagle's 90-day jail sentence and three years of community control, Burnworth ordered him to complete a counseling program at the SEPTA Correctional Facility and then enroll in local counseling.
Earlier this year, Slagle was acquitted on a charge of theft of a credit card when his grandmother-the victim in the case-failed to appear for trial.
Burnworth recalled that Slagle's grandmother and mother had pursued the charges in the first place because they wanted to make him get help for his drug addiction.
"The court is now giving you the help that your mother and grandmother and you asked for," said Burnworth.