GALLIPOLIS — A Gallia County man was sentenced this week in Gallia County Common Pleas Court after he broke into two local businesses late last year.
Lonnie Fooce, 22, of Bidwell, was sentenced on Tuesday to two years of community control after he pleaded guilty to one count of breaking and entering.
Fooce was arrested Jan. 11 in connection with the Steve Evans Sausage building and Backwoods Guns break-ins that occurred during the early morning hours on Dec. 29.
According to reports, deputies were dispatched at 7 a.m. Dec. 29 to the Steve Evans Sausage Plant on Ohio 850 in regard to a possible break-in. The business owner was on scene and had reportedly discovered that someone had pried open the front door of the facility. After searching the building, the owner discovered that a freezer door had been left open and an undetermined amount of sausage had been stolen.
After further investigating the area, the deputy checked nearby businesses, including Backwoods Guns.
According to the police reports, no entry was gained at Backwoods Guns, but damage was reported to the door, frame, lock and garage door.
Reportedly, the break-in and attempted break-in at the businesses on Ohio 850 occurred between approximately 4:30-5:30 a.m. Dec. 29.
Still frames of the suspect taken from surveillance footage were later released to the public and deputies subsequently identified Fooce and arrested him in January.
Fooce was later indicted and charged with two counts of breaking and entering and one count of vandalism.
Following Tuesday’s hearing, Gallia County Prosecutor Jeff Adkins reported that due to Ohio House Bill 86, a probation sentence in this particular case was mandatory.
“The court was required to sentence Fooce to community control as he had no prior felony record,” Adkins said while referring to a recent breaking and entering case where that defendant, Michael Richmond, 26, was sentenced to prison. “Richmond had a prior felony and violated the conditions of his bond, making him eligible for prison for breaking and entering even after House Bill 86.”
Adkins further commented on this case, adding that he hopes the defendant will see his time while on probation as an opportunity.
“I appreciate that the victims of these offenses work hard for what they have and that the public is tired of dealing with thefts,” Adkins said. “I hope that the defendant accepts the opportunity the law has given him to become a productive member of society.”
Fooce has remained in jail since his arrest and was allegedly homeless at the time of the offense.
In addition to his community control sentence, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $2,348 to Backwoods Guns for a door that was damaged during the offense.
Gallia County assistant prosecutors Eric Mulford and Britt Wiseman further reported that Fooce was also ordered to complete a drug rehabilitation program and pointed to this case as an illustration of why sentencing alternatives are so important within the justice system.
“This case illustrates the need for locally-based sentencing alternatives, including a modern county jail and a drug and alcohol rehabilitation program with housing available for the participants,” Mulford and Wiseman wrote in a joint statement. “We applaud those local organizations, such as the Field of Hope and associated ministries at Vinton Baptist Church, who recognize that we can’t arrest and jail our way out of the drug problem, and who are working to make our community a better and safer place to live.”