A Stockport man pleaded guilty Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to burglarizing a nearby Stockport home and later burning evidence of the crime.
John J. Sparks, 41, of 42 Haas Drive, pleaded guilty to a bill of information that included a third-degree felony count of burglary and a third-degree felony county of tampering with evidence.
He broke into a home at 1365 Shinn Road, a part of Stockport which lies within Palmer Township in Washington County on Dec. 12, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Alison Cauthorn.
"He entered by knocking out a window and entering through the broken window... He stole about $3,000 worth of money, jewelry, and guns," said Cauthorn.
Investigating deputies found that some of the stolen guns had been sold in Belpre and traced the sales back to Sparks, she said.
Sparks also admitted to burning a jewelry box he had stolen when he learned the Washington County Sheriff's Office was investigating a series of home burglaries in the area.
"In fact, he called the sheriff's office," said Cauthorn.
Sparks called trying to discern how much information the Washington County Sheriff's Office had on the burglaries, she said.
In exchange for the guilty pleas, Cauthorn said Sparks would not be prosecuted for other felony crimes he is suspected of committing which happened in Washington County around the same time. That includes a third-degree felony charge of having weapons while under a disability for which Sparks could be charged because he has a prior felony conviction and came into contact with guns.
Sparks is also suspected of being connected with other burglaries that happened in the area around the same time, she said.
Cauthorn listed an additional third-degree and second-degree felony burglary, an additional third-degree felony tampering with evidence, and felony receiving stolen property charges as potential charges the prosecution would no longer pursue as a result of Sparks' guilty plea.
While Sparks is suspected of other burglaries, Cauthorn clarified that the fact that they happened around the same time and in the same area is not enough to definitively connect Sparks to them.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane asked Sparks if he had known the people whom he burglarized. Sparks indicated it was just a random home.
Sparks' attorney Nancy Brum made an argument that his bond should be reduced from $15,000 to $5,000 or $10,000 dollars to give him a better chance to post it.
"His mother is very ill," said Brum.
However, Cauthorn argued that the bond remain unchanged because Sparks had been on probation at the time of the crime, has a prior felony record and has spent time in prison.
Lane opted to revoke the bond entirely.
"These are major felonies... I'm ordering him held without bond," he said.
Sparks faces three years in prison on each of the two charges for a total maximum prison sentence of six years. His sentencing is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. April 4.