Thursday, April 26th, 2012
Judge hands down community control sanctions
By Margie Wuebker
A Celina man who earns a living doing farm work for others was sentenced to community control sanctions Wednesday afternoon in Mercer County Common Pleas Court for his role in rustling pigs from several area hog barns.
Ricky L. Crouch, 50, 221 1/2 S. Ash St., told Judge Jeffrey Ingraham, "I am very, very sorry for what I did. I'm 50 years old, and I have learned a lesson."
Crouch pleaded guilty March 6 to six counts of breaking and entering, all fifth-degree felonies. As part of a negotiated agreement, the state dismissed six additional charges.
Ingraham chastised the defendant particularly given his own association with farming.
He noted two of the victims, who were present in the courtroom, have struggled since the thefts.
"You steal from other people, and they feel invaded," Ingraham said. "They are fearful for their safety. You as a farmer should understand."
The terms of CCS include 90 days in the Mercer County Detention Center upon notice from his probation officer and three years supervision. Jail time is typically ordered in the event of a violation.
Restitution was set at $4,682 - $4,032 to Cooper Farms and the remaining $650 to Indiana Packers. The hogs were owned by Cooper Farms and raised by local farmers. Ingraham also noted an apology was in order for the victims.
In the event Crouch violates the sanctions, he could face a 10-month prison sentence on each of the six felony charges with the time to run concurrently.
Crouch, his son and their wives reportedly were involved with rustling 32 hogs from two State Line Road hog barns between Jan. 30 and Feb. 6. The 130-pound animals were loaded a few at a time into the back of a Chevy S10 pickup truck equipped with a camper top and later sold to livestock yards. The Mercer County Sheriff's Office installed surveillance cameras at the farm, which captured the crime.
Chad M. Crouch, 28, 537 Touvelle St., pleaded guilty to three counts of breaking and entering during an April 18 appearance. Sentencing is set for May 16. The state dismissed nine additional counts ranging from fifth-degree felonies to first-degree misdemeanors as part of plea negotiations.
Lisa Crouch, 42, and Christina Crouch, 29, were charged with misdemeanor offenses for receiving stolen property when they attempted to sell some of the animals at an area livestock business.
Ricky Crouch was to be sentenced for his actions on March 28. However, he and his wife Lisa were handcuffed and taken into custody while seated outside the courtroom. The arrests were made after authorities in Jay County, Ind., issued warrants charging the Crouches with four counts of theft alleging they stole 52 sheep in that jurisdiction last fall.
Court proceedings are continuing in those cases.