Erb sentenced for breaking and entering

MARIETTA – A New Matamoras man accused of breaking into an unoccupied New Matamoras house and stealing and damaging around $4,500 worth of items was sentenced Tuesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Mitchell L. Erb, 27, of 50810 Ohio 7, was sentenced to 120 days in the Washington County Jail, but will be transferred to the SEPTA Correctional Facility after 60, ordered Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane.

“You lose your job, you don’t break into somebody’s house and steal the plumbing out,” he said.

Erb was one of three New Matamoras men implicated in the Sept. 23 break-in at the New Matamoras house and accused of stealing copper piping, tubing and wiring, collector bottles of alcohol and tools.

Chris T. Fluhart, 20, of 1308 Williamson Ave., and Paul W. Hendershot Jr., 21, of 40 Fourth St., were indicted last month on fifth-degree felony charges of theft and breaking and entering. They are both awaiting trial, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

Erb pleaded guilty to a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering on Feb. 14.

At the same time, he pleaded guilty to assault, a first-degree misdemeanor, stemming from an Aug. 7, 2011 incident outside the Grandview Tavern, said Schneider.

“Another crime had happened about a year before this one when he took a wallet from a man in New Matamoras, but before we could go to trial he got sentenced to a year in jail in West Virginia on a misdemeanor charge,” he said.

Erb had initially been indicted on a second-degree felony count of robbery in that incident, but pleaded guilty to the lesser charge and spent 30 days in jail, said Schneider.

Asked to make a statement on his own behalf, Erb said, “No. I’m guilty, your honor. I’m not going to fight you guys.”

Erb said he is trying to get his life straightened out after a life in and out of the judicial system. The breaking and entering was committed two weeks after he was released from jail in West Virginia, he said.

“I’m a good-hearted person. I was being a follower, not a leader. I am a leader though,” he said.

Erb asked Lane for the chance to participate in the SEPTA program, which offers drug counseling and teaches workforce skills. However, he said he would accept whatever punishment was doled out.

“You’ve got the sword,” he told Lane.

Erb has been charged with previous felonies, but never convicted, so he is not eligible for a prison sentence, noted Lane.

In addition to serving time in jail and at SEPTA, Erb will be on community control for five years and will be required to attend counseling at L&P Services following his release.

If Erb violates community control he will be sent to prison for the maximum 12 months, said Lane.

Lane ordered Erb to pay restitution of $4,500. However, it is possible Fluhart and Hendershot will be found liable for part of the restitution should they be found guilty.