GEORGETOWN, Ohio — Attorneys for Roy and Richard Burson reached a plea bargain with the state Wednesday, getting several charges against them dismissed and closing a case in which the two brothers each faced 125 criminal counts stemming from several thefts in southern Ohio.
Both Bursons pleaded guilty to a total of 28 counts and were each sentenced to six years in prison by Brown County Common Pleas Court Judge R. Alan Corbin.
As part of the plea agreement, Roy, 23, and Richard, 30, admitted guilt to 11 counts of tampering with a coin machine, seven counts of breaking and entering, three counts of vandalism, two counts of receiving stolen property, two counts of theft in excess of $500 and one count each of theft, theft of a motor vehicle and theft of a firearm.
The two men, both of Eastland Mobile Home Park in Georgetown, were arrested Dec. 1, 2004, after a two-week investigation by the Georgetown Police Department in conjunction with three other police agencies and aided by tips from confidential informants.
In court Wednesday, they admitted to their role in a number of incidents between Oct. 11 and Nov. 25, last year.
The charge of theft of a firearm, a third-degree felony, carried the most severe punishment, accounting for three years of the total prison sentence.
The two men broke into the American Legion Post 180 in Georgetown last Nov. 18, stealing eight rifles and two machine guns.
One fourth-degree felony, theft of a motor vehicle, landed Roy and Richard Burson 16 months in prison.
The remaining offenses, except for one theft charge, were fifth-degree felonies for which the two men were sentenced to 10 months in prison.
The two men stole a 1995 Dodge Ram truck owned by Douglas Andrews of Russellville last Oct. 11, the first of what would become a string of thefts in Brown County.
As part of the plea agreement, Roy and Richard Burson also admitted to using the truck to damage a cornfield owned by Lonnie Dunseith.
A number of other vehicle-related offenses to which the Bursons admitted their guilt included stealing a CD player from a car owned by Michelle Haughn, breaking into a barn owned by Linda Daniels to steal tools from a Toyota 4-Runner parked inside and stealing the tires, grille and front parking lights from a 1985 Toyota 4X4 owned by Tom Woodley.
The breaking and entering convictions stemmed from attempted thefts at Red Oak Carryout, Adams/Brown Recycling, R & D's Wayside Inn in Russellville, Buttermilk Falls Golf Course in Georgetown and the Georgetown Family Dollar.
The two were also convicted of receiving frozen meat, laundry detergent, fabric softener and other items from the Winchester Baptist Church and Winchester Laundromat in Adams County.
In addition to breaking and entering into the Buttermilk Falls Golf Course, the Bursons also damaged two golf carts at the course.
Finally, the brothers admitted to breaking into and taking change from vending machines in front of Jubilee in Ripley, Lakewood Golf Course, Carrington's Farm Supply, Magic Wand Car Wash in Mount Orab, Harold's Quick Shop in Georgetown, Gingerbread House Day Care Center in Mount Orab, Mount Orab Veterinary Clinic, Howser's Fuel Mart, Country Sunshine Cleaners, Mount Orab Car Wash and Mount Orab Tire Discounters.
Richard Burson claimed he had no role in an attempted theft at Pitzer's Carryout in Wahlsburg, and did not offer a plea to two counts related to that incident.
Roy Burson, however, confessed that on Oct. 11, 2004, he broke into Pitzer's Carryout and wrapped a chain around an ATM and attempted to pull it away from the wall inside the store with the stolen truck.
Richard Burson had retained Katie Kelly as his attorney while the court appointed David Grimes to represent Roy.
Both men at one time attempted to recant their guilty pleas to at least one criminal count, Richard answering with a not guilty plea to a count of receiving stolen property and Roy denying one breaking and entering count.
The answers drew quizzical looks from their attorneys, but the brothers backtracked and gave guilty pleas to all counts.
Compounding the convictions facing the two men is the fact that they both have prior felony convictions.
Roy Burson had been serving a probated sentence for forgery at the time of his arrest last December, and Richard Burson has previously been convicted of aggravated robbery in Brown County Common Pleas Court, theft in Hamilton County Municipal Court and theft and tampering with coin machines in Brown County Municipal Court.
Those prior convictions caused Corbin to impose most of the sentences on separate counts to be served consecutively, adding up to six years.
"Consecutive prison sentences are necessary on some of these counts to protect the public from future crimes and to punish Roy and Richard Burson," said Corbin.
The two men will also be ordered to pay restitution. A later hearing will determine the exact amount they will be ordered to repay.
"We do not have an accurate figure, though it will be in the thousands of dollars due to damage of the coin machines," said Brown County Prosecutor Tom Grennan.
A third person implicated in the thefts, Tabitha Fields, who lived with the Bursons, still faces 13 counts of receiving stolen property related to this case.
Contact Justin Story at Justin.Story@lee.net or 564-9091, ext. 276.
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