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YOUNGSTOWN Man gets three-year sentence for newspaper coin-box thefts



Published: Wed, May 1, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



The matter of roughly $20,000 in restitution will be considered later.

By PATRICIA MEADE

VINDICATOR CRIME REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- John J. Lysowski's days of carting off newspaper boxes for the coins inside to support his crack habit have been cut short.

The 35-year-old Poland man received a three-year prison sentence Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court. He had pleaded guilty in February to eight counts of tampering with a coin machine, six counts of theft, three counts of breaking and entering and two counts of receiving stolen property.

"He went on a spree last fall," Boardman attorney Mark Lavelle told Judge Maureen A. Cronin. "How better to support a drug habit?"

Kelly Johns, an assistant county prosecutor, asked that Judge Cronin impose two consecutive 18-month sentences on two of the theft charges. Johns also recommended concurrent time on the remaining charges.

Judge Cronin agreed and gave Lysowski credit for the time he has served in the county jail since his arrest last October.

The judge said she may consider judicial release after Lysowski serves 18 months.

She asked Lysowski if, in the past 10 years, he'd ever been drug free for 18 months.

"I don't think so," he said. He admitted using crack cocaine "off and on" for 10 years.

The judge, who reviewed Lysowski's long criminal history since 1991, wondered if Lysowski has any children. One, he said, age 18.

Over the past 10 years, "What did you teach that child?" Judge Cronin asked.

"Nothing good," he answered.

What happened

When caught, Lysowski accepted responsibility and showed police where to locate the boxes, Lavelle said in court.

In a written statement to Coitsville police last October, Lysowski said he just looked for the orange Vindicator boxes and took whatever else was attached. Some of the thefts occurred while the Blue Ridge Drive man was out on bond.

The coin-operated machines, worth about $500 each, are usually destroyed when a thief rips open the aluminum casing to remove the change inside. For several months last year, damaged newspaper boxes from Youngstown, Boardman, Canfield, Austintown and Campbell were found in fields and under bridges.

The Vindicator and out-of-town and national publications such as The Plain Dealer and USA Today reported box thefts to police. The Vindicator had at least 50 damaged, said Alan Bowlby, circulation director.

Once Lysowski is released from prison, Judge Cronin will consider roughly $20,000 in restitution to The Vindicator and other newspaper agencies.

Lavelle said his client, by being in the county jail the past six months, was forced to remain drug free.

If freed early from prison and placed on judicial release, Judge Cronin can order better drug rehabilitation than Lysowski will find in prison, Lavelle said after court.

meade@vindy.com




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