Last man sentenced in ATV theft ring

STEUBENVILLE — The last of five men charged in connection to an ATV theft ring was sentenced to prison this week.

Marcus J. Hale, 39, of Hammondsville, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday by Jefferson County Common Pleas Judge Joseph Bruzzese Jr. after a jury found Hale guilty of two counts theft of a motor vehicle, single counts tampering with evidence and misdemeanor fleeing and eluding and two counts of breaking and entering. The judge also ordered Hale to make $7,416 in restitution for the stolen ATVs.

County Prosecutor Jane Hanlin said six ATVs were stolen from May through July. She said the defendants didn’t steal the ATVs to sell for profit but rather stole the vehicles to ride them until they broke down. She said the appearance of the ATVs was altered.

The case began with pure luck.

The Ohio State Highway Patrol was notified on July 2 about ATVs on the road near Costonia. A trooper knew a state wildlife office was in the area and asked them to respond. Hanlin said Hale took off but another codefendant, Cody Hoover, 21, of Stratton couldn’t get the ATV started and was taken into custody by the wildlife officer. She said Hoover was interviewed and names of the other codefendants and information about the case was obtained.

Jason Hanlin of the county drug task force was notified because Hoover had information on his cell phone about marijuana sales. The prosecutor said her husband conducted interviews in the case.

Hoover pleaded guilty to two counts each of theft of a motor vehicle breaking and entering and single counts of burglary and tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to two years in prison and ordered to make $1,520 in restitution.

The other defendants are:

¯ Jon W. Patterson, 19, of 1217 N. Fourth St., Toronto, four counts theft of a motor vehicle, three counts tampering with evidence, two counts breaking and entering and single counts of burglary and misdemeanor fleeing and eluding He was sentenced to four years and 11 months in prison and ordered to make $7,416 in restitution.

¯ Dakota J. Goff, 18, of 1014 township Road 223, Richmond, two counts theft of a motor vehicle and one count of breaking and entering. He was sentenced to six months in the Eastern Ohio Correction Center, placed on two years of probation and ordered to make $5,737 in restitution. He faces seven years in prison if he violates probation.

¯ Paul D. Porter, 18, of 11647 state Route 213, Toronto, two counts tampering with evidence. He was sentenced to six months in the Eastern Ohio Correction Center , placed on two years of probation and ordered to make $5,293 in restitution. He faces six years in prison if he violates probation.

Hanlin said evidence in the case included social media posts by the defendants talking about the thefts. She said Hale took pictures of a stolen ATV and discussed what alterations he was planning.

Hanlin said she talked with jurors in the Hale case and they believed Hale was the ringleader.

Hanlin said sheds and garages were broken into, sometimes when the property owners were at home. She said the defendants would stakeout the properties during the day and return at night for the thefts.

“The crimes took time to plan out,” she said.

She said the worst part of the cases is the owners of the ATVs probably won’t get any of the restitution.

“It was a great investigation by all the officers. If they (defendants) were still out there, they would be continuing to steal,” Hanlin said.

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