|Conviction reversed for head of theft ring|
|Written by Sentinel-Tribune|
|Monday, 13 January 2014 11:07|
The Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals has reversed the conviction of a Sylvania man convicted in Wood County court of being part of a theft ring.
In a decision released Friday, the court stated that "because we find the trial court committed a structural error, we reverse" in the case of Herbie H. Betz, 44.
The decision stated that a mistrial, moved for at the time of the guilty verdict by the defense, should have been granted to Betz, because two jurors said they felt intimidated by actions they reportedly observed on the part of two members of Betz' family during a recess in the trial.
"We conclude the trial judge failed to fulfill his fundamental duty to ensure the trial was fair and impartial" due to the incident, the decision read.
The court also voided restitution in the case, which has been remanded back to the Wood County Court of Common Pleas for further proceedings.
"I'm assuming they're remanding it for a new trial," said Wood County Prosecutor Paul Dobson. He indicated that he will need to discuss the matter with the prosecutor on the case, as well as appellate counsel to determine if there is a possibility of further appeal in the case.
Betz was sentenced to eight years in prison in 2012 by Judge Robert C. Pollex after a jury found him guilty of eight felony counts including engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, illegal use of food stamps and receiving stolen property.
Betz' wife, Michele, 45, was sentenced to five years in prison, and his mother, Thelma Fowler, 71, was sentenced to eight years. The three were judged to be the ring leaders of the group. The crime ring reportedly operated in Ohio, Michigan and Indiana, and involved 70 individuals.
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