Man gets 3 years in theft ring

WARREN – A 28-year-old Newton Falls man was sentenced to three years in prison for his role in a local theft ring.

Michael Karpenko said nothing as he was sentenced Wednesday by Trumbull County Common Pleas Judge W. Wyatt McKay.

An assistant prosecutor asked for a six-year sentence, calling the defendant a ”career criminal.” Karpenko’s attorney asked for one year behind bars.

McKay mentioned on the bench that Karpenko had been to prison three times previously.

Karpenko is awaiting sentencing in another court on an unrelated charge and the judge pointed out that the unrelated case occurred after Karpenko was indicted in the theft ring case. And when he was arrested in the theft ring, Karpenko was on probation at the time. He had been free on bond until Wednesday’s sentencing.

It was nearly a year ago that a Ravenna man in the ring was placed on five years probation and agreed to testify against Karpenko and his cousin Rob, of Girard.

Rob Karpenko, 40, is currently doing a lengthy prison term in Florida after drug convictions there. Assistant county prosecutor Charles Morrow said his case is still pending here.

Rob Karpenko was captured more than a year ago in Pinella County, Fla., and was never extradited. He was charged with six felony charges and four misdemeanors that deal with falsifying his identify and drug trafficking in Florida, according to prosecutors.

The cousins were both charged with engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity along with other defendants linked to the theft ring that prosecutors say sold stolen equipment through Pine Ridge Auction Center in Leavittsburg.

Michael Karpenko pleaded guilty last month to one count of conspiracy to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and seven counts of receiving stolen property.

In October of 2010, Eddie Ware, 30, of Hubbard, was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, grand theft, vandalism, breaking and entering, and five counts of receiving stolen property.

Morrow said at the time Ware was the first of several charged and convicted of the theft and fencing operation that ran from March 2008 through January 2010.

The ring included a break-in Oct. 29, 2009, at Girard Cemetery, where a Kabota trailer, backhoe and a utility vehicle were stolen from a storage building.

Three others who were charged with lesser non-conspiracy crimes, including at least one man who also agreed to cooperate with the prosecution, were placed on probation.

Morrow said Trooper Mike Russell, an investigator with the Ohio State Highway Patrol, handled the probe with help from Capt. Frank Bigowsky with Girard police, and Detective Mike Begeot with Hubbard Township police.