A former Lower Salem man sentenced to more than a decade in prison Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court asked for leniency and said he was unfairly taking all the blame for the crimes.
After a February jury trail, Michael E. Jazdzewski, 27, was found guilty of 16 theft-related charges for breaking into multiple area businesses.
Jazdzewski reportedly broke into several businesses-many area pizza places and Dollar General stores-with his brother-in-law Kristoffer Cline. His then-girlfriend Ashley N. McKnight served as a driver during some of the crimes and testified against Jazdzewski at trial with an agreement that no charges would be filed against her in Washington and Noble counties.
Charges against Cline have since been dropped because of lack of evidence, and Jazdzewski lamented before sentencing that he was taking the fall for everyone's actions.
"It was not fair at all. There was no honesty and truth to it," he said of McKnight's testimony.
"She's getting away with a lot," he added.
McKnight was convicted of charges in Athens County where she and Jazdzewski were ultimately caught mid-crime, robbing a Family Dollar in Coolville in August 2012.
McKnight was sentenced to five months on charges of safecracking and breaking and entering in Athens County, most of which she served in the Rural Women's Recovery Program, according to Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.
Jazdzewski was sent back to prison in Wisconsin as the break-in was a violation of his parole on a burglary charge there.
When released, Jazdzewski returned to Washington County to face 26 charges stemming from break-ins that happened between December 2011 and his August 2012 arrest.
Five charges were dropped before trial for insufficient evidence and a jury returned not guilty verdicts on five other charges. Most of those not guilty verdicts related to crimes at Napolis in Vincent and Tractor Supply in Marietta that happened before Jazdzewski and McKnight began their relationship.
The charges Jazdzewski was ultimately found guilty of include incidents at Family Dollar in Beverly, Dough Boyz Pizzeria locations in Beverly and Devola, Dollar General in Lowell, Gutberlet Automotive in Lowell, Dairy Queen in Marietta, The Pizza Factory in Caldwell and Valley Inn in Beverly.
He was found guilty of a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, nine fifth-degree felony counts of breaking and entering, two fifth-degree felony counts of theft, and four first-degree misdemeanor counts of theft. If sentenced consecutively, Jazdzewski faced 21 years on the charges.
Schneider recommended a 12-year sentence.
Jazdzewski's attorney Joe Brockwell asked for "something much more moderate" and downplayed Jazdzewski's involvement in the crimes.
"He's taking the punishment for everybody else," he said.
In asking for a short sentence, Jazdzewski added that he began suffering from depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder when previously sent to prison in Wisconsin.
He also mentioned his three children who he will not be around to parent if given a lengthy sentence.
"I try to raise my kids over the phone," he said referring to his incarceration.
Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth handed down a sentence slightly less than Schneider's 12-year recommendation.
Burnworth sentenced Jazdzewski to one month shy of the maximum on each of the fifth-degree felony and first-degree misdemeanor charges and to six of the eight possible years on the corruption charge.
He grouped Jazdzewski's 16 charges into six sets. The charges inside each set will run concurrently with one another, but the six sets themselves will run consecutively.
The end result is a 10-year and seven month prison sentence, of which Jazdzewski has served 155 days.
Brockwell noted following Jazdzewski's trial that his client will likely seek an appeal.