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Man gets probation in incident during attempt to repossess van



Published: Thu, September 1, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Michael Mrosko's actions contributed to Kenneth Bills' death, the victim's family contends.

By ROGER G. SMITH

VINDICATOR COURTHOUSE REPORTER

YOUNGSTOWN -- Things move fast when a vehicle is repossessed. Sometimes people don't think and they make bad decisions.

That's how a defense lawyer explained the tragic circumstances that left a repo man in court and another man seriously injured -- his death a few months later hastened by the incident, his family says.

Judge Maureen A. Sweeney on Wednesday sentenced Michael G. Mrosko, 26, of Grandview Avenue, Struthers, to three years' probation, levied a $2,500 fine and ordered him to seek anger management help. He pleaded guilty in May to vehicular assault.

Mrosko was charged with injuring Kenneth Bills, 56, of Canfield Road.

How events unfolded

This is what happened, according to police records and the prosecutor and defense lawyer at the sentencing:

Mrosko was working for an Akron repossession company the afternoon of Jan. 3 this year. He went to recover a 1994 van from the driveway of Bills' residence.

Bills saw a man -- Mrosko -- get into the vehicle. Bills ran over and banged his hand on the van, trying to stop the driver from leaving. Mrosko yelled that he was the "repo man," taunted Bills, backed up and ran over him.

A witness saw a side mirror knock Bills to the ground. Mrosko thought he felt a bump but didn't know he ran over the man.

Bills suffered a broken femur, a separated shoulder and injuries to his abdomen.

Bills thought his payments were up to date and the repossession was a mistake. The prosecutor said the repossession was legitimate, however.

Mrosko later was charged. On May 11, he pleaded guilty. Bills died a few days later.

Defense attorney James Vivo said there is no evidence injuries from the repossession led to Bills' death.

Victim's family plans to sue

Bill's wife, Marilyn, however, told Judge Sweeney that she believes vein damage suffered in the incident likely shortened her husband's life. The family has a civil suit pending against Mrosko and others.

Marilyn Bills said her husband's injuries and later death caused the family to declare bankruptcy and interrupted her pursuit of a master's degree.

The taunting of her husband disturbs her.

"That's just too insensitive for me to understand," she said.

Mrosko apologized to the Bills' family and told Judge Sweeney he didn't mean to hurt the man.

"All I can say is I'm sorry," he said.

Vivo told the judge his client isn't a criminal and didn't set out to hurt anyone that day. The whole episode, he said, stemmed from a series of bad decisions on his client's part and perhaps the victim -- alluding to Bills getting into the vehicle's path.

"It just kind of happened," Vivo said.

Probation is a fair and correct sentence because it's highly unlikely Mrosko will be involved in anything like this again, Vivo said.

Mrosko no longer repossess vehicles, Vivo said. Instead, he owns his own auto sales business.

rgsmith@vindy.com




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