By Jane Beathard firstname.lastname@example.org
June 6, 2014
A former Plain City employee was arraigned in Madison County Common Pleas Court on Friday, June 6, charged with several felonies, stemming from gasoline thefts from a village-owned pump.
Eric P. Diaz, 43, of Columbus, is accused of tampering with records, breaking and entering and forgery in connection with gas thefts between Feb. 20 and April 5.
Defense attorney Brian Joslyn entered a not guilty plea for Diaz on Friday. Judge Eamon Costello set trial for Aug. 19.
Diaz recently pleaded guilty in municipal court to stealing the gas. He is scheduled for sentencing on those misdemeanors in July.
Village police arrested Diaz just after 6 a.m. on April 13 after he pumped nine gallons of gas into his 2008 Chevrolet truck from a pump at the wastewater treatment plant, 216 Central Ave.
Diaz resigned as the plant’s superintendent in January 2013.
According to the village police department’s Facebook page, other village employees noted discrepancies in fuel logs and fuel usage in early April, prompting officers to begin surveillance of the refueling facility.
Diaz told police he took a key fob from an unlocked vehicle at the water department in February. That key opened the gate to the wastewater treatment plant. Diaz was accused of using that key 13 times in February, March and April in order to steal gas. He recorded each theft in the plant’s fuel logs, thinking no one would notice the missing gas, records said.
Also on Friday, two Plain City men netted in April by officers of the county drug task force were back in court to face new allegations of drug use and dealing.
Scott Herdman, 22, was charged with possessing heroin on April 29. Paul Darling, 31, was charged with dealing the painkiller Oxycodone in the presence of a child on Dec. 10, 2013.
Defense attorney Stuart Benis entered a not guilty plea for Herdman and requested evaluation for his client at a local mental health facility. Benis said Herdman has a drug problem. Costello agreed to modify Herdman’s house arrest and set a trial date of Aug. 19.
Costello appointed Fred Ballam to represent Darling and released the man on a signature bond.
Both Herdman and Darling were arrested in April, following an undercover investigation of opiate dealing in the village.
Herdman is currently under indictment for complicity to traffic drugs. Darling was indicted in May on multiple trafficking counts.
Costello ordered all cases against Darling combined for a July 17 trial.
Also, Shane E. Stowers, 31, of Plain City, was arraigned Friday on felony theft and misuse of a credit card charges, stemming from incidents between Jan. 4 and Feb. 1, 2014.
Costello appointed Jess Stacy to represent Stowers at an Aug. 19 trial and released the man on a signature bond.
Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 16 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.