MIAMI COUNTY — Alleged robber Steven A. Bixler, 32, entered a plea of guilty for third-degree felony robbery in Miami County Common Pleas on Tuesday.
The reported robbery took place at the Spring Thru Drive Thru in December 2015. According to Piqua police reports, Bixler allegedly entered the business, brandished a knife, and demanded money before fleeing on foot with an undisclosed amount of cash. An arrest warrant for Bixler was filed in early January, and Bixler was caught in Hardin County.
Bixler’s change of plea is part of an plea agreement with the state. The joint recommendation amended Bixler’s previous charge of first-degree felony aggravated robbery down to a third-degree felony. The agreement also recommended for Bixler to serve 24 months in prison for this charge to run concurrently with the separate third-degree felony trafficking in drugs charge that Bixler is also facing.
Bixler waived the pre-sentencing investigation for his burglary charge. Bixler will be sentenced on March 1.
In other news:
• James M. Richards, 51, of Sidney was sentenced to 14 months in prison for fourth-degree felony forgery in Miami County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday.
Richards reportedly stole a man’s checkbook and forged his signature on a check, attempting to cash the $1,800 check at Unity National Bank in the Piqua Walmart. The victim was reportedly an elderly man well known within the community.
According court records, an employee of the bank was familiar with the account holder and recognized that the signature on the check did not match the account holder’s. The employee called the victim who stated that he did not write the check.
On Tuesday, Richards stated that he was “strung out” when he committed those actions but that was “no excuse.”
“You took advantage and stole from an elderly man,” Judge Jeannine Pratt said. “He is a lifelong member of (and) well known in Miami County for his service to others.”
Judge Pratt stated that the court would have imposed the maximum sentence if it had not been for the joint recommendation of 14 months in prison between Richards and the state. Judge Pratt said that this prison sentence will give Richards a lot of time to think about his actions and how to turn his life around.
Richards has a jail credit of 103 days.
• Also in Miami County Common Pleas Court on Tuesday, Matthew J. Nash, 27, of Piqua was sentenced to 10 days in jail and three years of community control for fourth-degree felony improper handling of a firearm. In June 2015, Nash reportedly fired a shotgun into the air outside of Z’s Food and Spirits.
“He is definitely sorry for his actions of that evening,” Nash’s attorney Stephanie Gunter said. “He has had no other charges since then … This will not happen again.”
“I know I messed up,” Nash said. “I apologize.”
“There was an intent to cause threat or physical harm with a weapon,” Judge Pratt said.
Judge Pratt described Nash’s actions of “driving around the town of Piqua with a loaded shotgun” and then later discharging the weapon “three times in the air right in the middle of (Piqua).”
“This is serious offense, poor judgment on your part,” Judge Pratt said. “You were not cooperative with police.”
During the pre-sentencing investigation, it was also found that Nash has no employment history.
“You’re 27 years old, and you have no job history,” Judge Pratt said. “You have mental health issues that you’re not properly treating … You’re a danger to the community unless you address these issues, sir.”
Judge Pratt imposed the joint recommendation of three years of community control with special conditions.
“As a special condition of your community control, you’re going to serve some local jail time,” Judge Pratt said.
Nash will be serving a total of eight days in jail after receiving a two-day jail credit. Nash must also undergo a mental health assessment, obtain a full-time job, and go through random drug screenings.
“You’re going to somehow be productive,” Judge Pratt said. Judge Pratt added later, “I hope this is a wake up call.”
Reach reporter Sam Wildow at (937) 451-3336 or on Twitter @TheDailyCall