Band of thieves included woman’s daughter

Last updated: July 22. 2014 4:00PM - 888 Views
By Jane Beathard jbeathard@civitasmedia.com

Debra L. Riley
Debra L. Riley
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The former Urbana woman who acted as a “fence” for a burglary ring that included her 20-year-old daughter was sentenced to two years of community control on Tuesday.

Debra L. Riley, 54, pleaded guilty in Madison County Common Pleas Court in January to multiple counts of receiving stolen property as part of a plea deal with the prosecutor’s office.

On Tuesday, visiting Judge Robert D. Nichols ordered Riley to undergo random drug tests and pay $9,729 in restitution to victims of four home break-ins that occurred between Feb. 8-20, 2013.

Riley shares responsibility for the restitution with co-defendants Ronald Moore and Ronald Morgan. Both men are currently serving prison time for a series of burglaries in Madison and surrounding counties.

Riley cooperated with investigators in the prosecutions of Morgan and Moore — ringleaders of a band of thieves that included Riley’s daughter, Lauren Kehl.

Kehl died of a heroin overdose in May 2013 while undergoing substance abuse treatment in northeast Ohio.

Defense attorney Ryan Reed said Riley did not participate in the burglaries, but cashed the items stolen by the others at area pawn shops. Proceeds supported the heroin addictions of Moore, Morgan, Riley and Kehl.

Nichols noted Riley’s actions contributed directly to her daughter’s death and asked how the two, with middle class backgrounds, were swept up in a world of theft and drugs.

“I was with the wrong people,” Riley answered.

Riley said Kehl’s early drug use led to an association with Moore. Moore, in turn, introduced Kehl and Riley to the abuse of prescription painkillers. When prescription opiates became too expensive and difficult to obtain, the three turned to heroin.

Kehl’s death prompted Riley to seek sobriety. She entered a drug treatment program in October and has remained drug free since. Tests administered prior to Tuesday’s sentencing showed no drugs in Riley’s system.

“I’ve changed my life,” Riley told Nichols. “I feel bad for the (burglary) victims.”

Jane Beathard can be reached at (740) 852-1616, ext. 1616 or via Twitter @JaneBeathard.

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