Gibbs pleads guilty to theft

MARIETTA – A Marietta man admitted Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to stealing a friend’s cell phone and credit card and racking up more than $800 in charges.

Justin T. Gibbs, 21, of 827 Ridge St. pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of theft. In exchange, Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Jared Erb said the state was willing to drop an additional first-degree misdemeanor charge of misuse of credit cards.

“The state intends to make a recommendation for community control,” added Erb.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane pointed out that Gibbs could receive up 12 months in prison on the charge.

“If I did sentence you to community control, it would probably involve time in the county jail or the SEPTA center,” said Lane.

On March 18, Gibbs allegedly stole a Chase Bank Visa card belonging to Carl Matheny from the home of a mutual acquaintance at 705 Warren St., Marietta, said Lane.

“How did you get possession of the card?” asked Lane.

Answered Gibbs, “It was on a desk close to where we were talking.”

Gibbs also admitted to using the card to make purchases.

Lane postponed sentencing in lieu of receiving certain reports, among them evaluations for the SEPTA Correctional Facility and for L&P Services Inc., a local substance abuse counseling center.

According to Gibbs’ attorney, Nancy Brum, he has already attended a couple of L&P counseling sessions.

“There may have been some substance abuse issues related to this,” she said.

Lane requested a victim impact statement and a restitution request to be filed by Feb. 15.

Gibbs used the stolen credit card to purchase gasoline, a beverage and $800 worth of gift cards at Speedway, said Erb.

Gibbs was indicted on the felony theft charge in late October. Since then, he has been cited with two minor misdemeanor possession of drug charges. Gibbs pleaded no contest to a Nov. 1 possession charge and was found guilty on Nov. 21, confirmed Marietta Municipal Court deputy clerk Kelly Wallace.

However, in the meantime, Gibbs was cited on Nov. 15 for possession of drugs and possession of marijuana paraphernalia. Gibbs failed to appear at a Dec. 19 court hearing on those charges and Marietta Municipal Court has an active warrant for his arrest, said Wallace.

Officers from the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, who provide security for the courthouse, did not arrest Gibbs on the warrant when he was in court Wednesday because they had not been aware of it, said Sheriff Larry Mincks.

“That warrant was issued to the Marietta Police Department,” he said.

Marietta Police Capt. Jeff Waite said under normal protocol, the court would call the department to inform them when a person under an active warrant was scheduled to appear. However, that did not happen this time, he said.

Gibbs is scheduled to be sentenced on the felony theft charge at 8 a.m. Feb. 21.