Marietta man sentenced on felony charge

MARIETTA – A Marietta man was sentenced Friday to community control and jail time for stealing from a neighborhood couple who had hired him to do odd jobs.

Ronald W. Gilbert, 47, of 920 Quarry St., Marietta, entered the neighbors’ home on July 15 while they were in the front yard.

While inside, he threw the neighbors’ safe out of a second store window, then left through the backyard, retrieved it and later cracked it open, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

The safe was found in Gilbert’s shed, smashed to smithereens, said Schneider.

It had contained thousands of dollars and all but $600 had ultimately been recovered, he said.

“(The victims) were very kind to you. They were doing you a favor having you help out and do odd jobs. Your behavior has put them in quite a bind,” said Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth.

Gilbert was initially indicted on a second-degree felony burglary charge, a fourth-degree felony safe cracking charge and a fifth-degree felony theft charge.

He pleaded guilty Jan. 11 to the second-degree burglary and faced a maximum of up to eight years in prison.

If Gilbert’s prior felony convictions were more recent, the state would have recommended a prison term, said Schneider.

Gilbert has a burglary felony from 1984 and a theft charge from 2003, he said.

Gilbert suffers from a substantial substance abuse problem, said Burnworth.

The man and his girlfriend had used the money taken from the safe to purchase alcohol, said Schneider.

The state was requesting $1,026 restitution for the money that was not recovered and for the cost of replacing the safe, he said.

Burnworth ordered the restitution and sentenced Gilbert to three years of community control sanctions and 180 days in the Washington County Jail. However, Gilbert will only spend at least 80 days in jail before taking the first bed available at the SEPTA Correctional Facility, where Gilbert can address his substance abuse issues, said Burnworth.

“I would hope you take this opportunity to address these issues so this sort of behavior does not happen ever again,” he said.