Lack of felony record keeps man out of prison after pleading guilty to 15 charges


Jessica Johnston

Matthew McElroy apologizes to his victims and tells Judge Mark Fleegle that he wishes to seek help with his addiction.

By Jessica Johnston, Assistant News Director

Due to his lack of felony-related criminal history, a man who pleaded to 15 charges avoided a prison sentence Wednesday morning.

Matthew McElroy was sentenced on two separate cases stemming from crimes he committed earlier this year, but due to his lack of felony-related criminal history, Judge Mark Fleegle said he could not send the man to prison.

Fleegle sentenced McElroy to two years of community control.

On two different occasions, McElroy, 33, stole various items which led to his charges.

“He just keeps stealing stuff,” Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Gerald Anderson said in court.

On March 17, McElroy allegedly stole a man’s credit card and oil pipe fitting from the man’s truck which was parked in the Rooster’s parking lot on Maple Avenue. After stealing the credit card, McElroy went to three different establishments to make purchases. Upon attempting to use the card a fourth time, it was declined, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Litle stated McElroy’s plea hearing in June.

All of McElroy’s purchases were captured on camera at the various places he swiped the man’s credit card.

Two weeks after his shopping spree, on April 1, McElroy was involved in stealing a company truck from City Electric Services, which had the company’s logo on it.

McElroy, along with a codefendant, took the truck to a car wash. The men were again caught on camera. 

The truck was later found on Water Street in Duncan Falls. Over $11,000 worth of tools that was in the truck at the time it was stolen were not located.

During his plea hearing, McElroy pleaded guilty to eight counts stemming from the March 17 incident including:

  • One count of theft — fifth-degree felony
  • One count of theft of a credit card — fifth-degree felony
  • One count of identity fraud — fifth-degree felony
  • Six counts of misuse of a credit card — first-degree misdemeanors

He also pleaded guilty to six additional charges pertaining to the April 1 incident including:

  • One count of receiving stolen property (motor vehicle) — fourth-degree felony
  • One count of receiving stolen property (between $7,500 and $150,000) — fourth-degree felony
  • One count of breaking and entering — fifth-degree felony
  • One count of theft (less than $1,000) — first-degree misdemeanor
  • One count of possession of drugs (heroin) — fifth-degree felony
  • One count of possession of drug abuse instruments — second-degree misdemeanor

When authorities arrested McElroy following both incidents, he was in possession of 0.24 grams of heroin, which led to the drug-related charges in the second case.

During his sentencing hearing, McElroy’s attorney, Clay Johnson, argued that his client has struggled with drug addiction for a long time.

McElroy echoed his attorney stating that he wants to seek help for his addiction and apologized to his victims.

Johnson requested intervention in lieu of conviction stating that McElroy is the perfect candidate given his lack of felony record.

Fleegle denied Johnson’s motion for ILC stating that McElroy has been on lockdown twice since he’s been incarcerated.

“He doesn’t play well with others,” Fleegle said of McElroy. 

While prison was not applicable to the situation, Fleegle gave McElroy an alternate sentence of 16 months if McElroy is unsuccessful on community control.

In addition to his sentence of community control, McElroy was ordered to pay a total of $11,770.23 in restitution, serve 50 hours of public service, complete a program at Franklin County Community Based Correctional Facility and pay his court costs.