After nearly two years, Steven Linville, 48, Osgood, was sentenced for six felony counts of theft and delivery of false sales documents in Ripley Circuit Court. Each felony carried from six months to two-and-a-half years of incarceration, according to a Ripley County Prosecutor's Office press release.
Linville had been a fuel manager for Laughery Valley Ag Co-op for several years, delivering fuel to 350-400 clients of this organization. The thefts and other crimes surrounded his deliveries as an employee of Laughery Valley.
Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel represented the state at the sentencing hearing and argued for prison time for Linville. Hertel cited the ongoing criminal enterprise and scheme that Linville had concocted, only after garnering the trust of Laughery Valley and of the clients to whom he delivered fuel. The crimes went on for an extended period of time, amounting to thousands of dollars taken from Laughery Valley.
The prosecutor explained that no charges could be brought against Linville for potential crimes against various Laughery Valley clients as probable cause did not exist and, ethically, he was prohibited. Hertel further argued another aggravator warranting prison time for Linville – that he was in a position of trust with Laughery Valley and its clients.
"These significant aggravators are sufficient to increase the advisory sentence," according to the prosecutor. Hertel recommended a sentence of 15 years. Linville’s attorney argued for a fully suspended sentence or community corrections, and that jail time was not appropriate.
Judge Ryan King sentenced him to 15 years with three years suspended. Due to the extensive amount of restitution, Hertel called Keith Everheart, the general manager of Laughery Valley, to the witness stand to explain the restitution amount they were requesting. Everheart explained and provided the court with the reasoning and accounting Laughery Valley used totaling $369,000. The defendant’s attorney argued for $35,729. King awarded restitution in the amount of $98,310.
Hertel expressed this was a significant amount of money, none of which has been returned, that was taken over a period of time in a well-thought-out plan scheme. Linville was not the average “pickpocket,” but implemented a much more complicated and elaborate scheme. He felt that the victim impact statement made at the hearing was compelling. The prosecutor had high praise for Indiana State Police Detective Kip Main and the extensive investigation he conducted that spanned months.