A Tipp City man initially sentenced to community control and 60 days in jail for the theft of walnut trees saw the sentence changed to nine months in prison after a bottle of clean urine was found taped to his leg as he was being taken from the courtroom to jail.
Daniel Padgett, 29, was sentenced on May 9 and again on May 10 by Judge Christopher Gee in Miami County Common Pleas Court after Padgett pleaded guilty May 9 to theft and possession of methamphetamines.
When he gets out of prison, Padgett faces a restitution order of $94,500 for payments to three property owners for mature walnut trees he cut without permission and sold. The victims included the Tipp City Eagles.
Gee accepted Padgett’s guilty pleas May 9 and said that he would be sentenced at the same hearing because information needed was available from earlier procedures in the case.
Padgett was sentenced to five years of community control, the restitution and 60 days in jail after telling Gee that “Methamphetamines took over my life. I’ve learned a lot and realize how serious this is.”
Janna Parker, assistant county prosecutor, said that although the loss from the theft was large, she also wanted to see Padgett paying on the restitution to those who lost the trees.
“The loss of these trees is very significant to the victims and the community as well,” Parker said. The $94,500 restitution was a compromise amount agreed to by the parties because of the difficulty in determining the actual value of all the trees.
“It is not like you could purchase a mature walnut tree that could replace the ones that were taken,”
Gee said at the initial sentencing.
The judge said he was troubled that Padgett had been arrested on similar charges in Greene County, where trees stolen belonged to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Those charges are pending.
Padgett was returned to court May 10 after a deputy working court security reported following the May 9 sentencing that the bottle of urine was discovered while Padgett was attempting to give some of his property to his lawyer before being taken into the jail. The deputy reported seeing Padgett with his hands in his pants and ordered him to stop as he attempted to place the bottle in a jacket pocked.
At court May 10, Gee asked Padgett to explain the incident.
Padgett said he had smoked marijuana following a previous court hearing when a random drug test was ordered and was afraid if another test were ordered at the May 9 hearing, he would fail it. He apologized for his actions.
“What you did yesterday is you basically showed your contempt for this entire process,” Gee said. “Strapping urine to your leg tells me about your honesty.”
Gee said he could change Padgett’s sentence because a sentence is effective once he signs the official paperwork, which had not been done on the May 9 sentence.
He then ordered Padgett to serve nine months in prison. He was given credit for 11 days served in jail.
“Mr. Padgett, you had a great opportunity … Whatever your drug problem is, you could have been working on it,” Gee said. “The community doesn’t need you running around demonstrating your contempt for the rest of us.”