Woman pleads guilty to her part in forging ownership to Roseville house

Jessica+Eblin+watches+her+defense+attorney+as+he+approaches+the+state%27s+side+of+the+courtroom+to+utter+a+clarification+during+her+plea+hearing.

Jessica Johnston

Jessica Eblin watches her defense attorney as he approaches the state's side of the courtroom to utter a clarification during her plea hearing.

By Christine Holmes, News Director

A second defendant involved the burglary of a Roseville home pleaded guilty to multiple charges related to the crime Monday afternoon.

Jessica Eblin, 34, is accused of helping her boyfriend, Joseph Hodge, deceive public officials in seizing a Roseville house in October 2018.

On March 20, a jury found Hodge guilty of all charges following a two-day trial.

During the trial, Assistant Prosecuting Attorney John Litle explained the victim in the case, Miranda Thomas, was checking on her temporarily vacated home and noticed the garage was open with a truck and trailers on the property that did not belong.

Thomas testified that she called law enforcement, and as she was waiting for deputies, she decided to check it out for herself.

When she entered the house, Thomas encountered Eblin and Hodge on the staircase.

The exchange between Thomas and Hodge became confrontational, with both parties claiming the house to be their own.

Hodge allegedly lifted his shirt to reveal the butt of a gun while threatening to kill Thomas and her family.

When deputies arrived, they advised the matter should be handled civilly, not criminally, and left the scene without taking action.

It wasn’t long after officers left the scene that they returned for another disturbance, this time because Hodge charged after the victim’s relative with a tire iron, striking a fence within close proximity to the relative.

Officers asked the victim and her family to leave the property and file an eviction through county court.

A few days later, Thomas returned to Roseville to see if Eblin and Hodge vacated the property as requested by a three-day notice only to find her belongings set ablaze in a fire pit in the yard.

Those belongings, many of which had sentimental value to Thomas, were some of the last remnants of her belongings since Hodge and Eblin replaced nearly all of the victim’s possessions inside the house and sold items on Facebook Marketplace.

Still, police called it a civil matter and took no criminal action.

Nearly a month later, the parties involved met in Downtown Zanesville for a court hearing the victim would never attend.

Prior to the hearing, Thomas was served a temporary protection order filed by Eblin.

Being a concealed carry license holder, Thomas was forced to forfeit her firearm and couldn’t be in the courtroom with Eblin present.

As the victim’s attorney, Derrick Moorehead, testified, Hodge made a stop in the Muskingum County Courthouse before heading to the eviction hearing to record a deed for the house he and Eblin claimed to own in Roseville.

Moorehead told the court he had seen a man who shortly after became known to him as Joseph Hodge recording a deed in the recorder’s office.

Hodge would later present that deed to Moorehead, leading to the discovery of a forged signature and false notarization.

Through that investigation, led by detectives from the Muskingum County Sheriff’s Office, it was learned that Hodge and Eblin extensively researched real estate law and the dimensions for creating a deed.

That evidence was documented in notebooks the victim recovered from the house when she regained access.

Detectives also learned Hodge and Eblin convinced Amy Adams, a friend of Eblin’s who was a licensed notary, to notarize the deed for them.

Adams explained to the jury that she had been asked by Hodge and Eblin to notarize the deed under the understanding that the owner no longer wanted the house.

Still, Adams had her reservations. Adams said Hodge convinced her she would never get into any criminal trouble by notarizing the deed.

“I thought I was doing a good thing for a friend,” Adams said in trial. “I didn’t want her kids to be homeless … I didn’t want her (Eblin) to be homeless.”

Although the deed has since been deemed false, its notarization and recording further complicated the victim’s situation as she must now go through additional court processes in order for her house to be recorded back in her name.

“It has been a living nightmare,” Thomas told the jury during Hodge’s trial.

Both Eblin and Hodge await sentencing in their individual cases.

Eblin was found guilty on the following counts:

  • Burglary (two counts), second-degree felonies
  • Forgery (two counts), fifth-degree felonies
  • Vandalism, fourth-degree felony
  • Tampering with evidence, third-degree felony
  • Tampering with records, third-degree felony
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (two counts), first-degree felonies

Hodge was convicted on the following counts:

  • Aggravated burglary (two counts), first-degree felonies
  • Forgery (two counts), fifth-degree felonies
  • Vandalism, fourth-degree felony
  • Arson, fourth-degree felony
  • Tampering with evidence, third-degree felony
  • Tampering with records, third-degree felony
  • Engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity (two counts), first-degree felonies

Sentencing dates are pending in both cases.