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Convict back behind bars

County jail escapee sentenced to prison

LISBON — Another one of the three men who escaped from the county jail last year by cutting a hole in the security fence was sentenced to prison during a Thursday hearing in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court.

Anthony R. Wagoner, 40, Cadmus Street, East Liverpool, was sentenced to 13 months in prison by Judge Scott Washam after previously pleading guilty to charges of escape and receiving stolen property related to the escape. He also is under investigation in Mahoning County for breaking into a business where he worked and stealing a safe containing $35,000, according to police.

Wagoner, Michael W. Hover Jr. of Salem and Michael Conzett of East Liverpool escaped from the minimum-security wing of the county jail at 11:30 p.m. June 17, 2019, by breaking a window in the shower area and then tearing off the metal cover.

Once outside, they used a device officials believe was thrown over the fence for them to use in cutting a hole in the perimeter security fence. After crawling through the hole, Hover and Wagoner ran down the hill to County Home Road and left in a vehicle that met them there. Conzett changed his mind and returned to the jail.

Hover and Wagoner were found less than two days later after returning to their hometowns. Hover already pleaded guilty and has been sentenced to two years in prison. Conzett also pleaded guilty and is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 10.

The county prosecutor’s office recommended a 10-month prison sentence as part of the plea deal reached with Wagoner, but during Thursday’s hearing, Columbiana County Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Gamble took the unusual step of advising Washam to use his discretion because of recent developments.

Gamble said he expects to seek an indictment of Wagoner for his role in burglarizing a Madison Township home last month, in addition to the Mahoning County case.

Gamble said a warrant was issued for Wagoner after he missed a February hearing.

Defense attorney Paul Conn was unaware of the alleged crime in Mahoning County, “and my client indicates he doesn’t know what Mr. Gamble is talking about.”

As for the missed hearing, Conn said Wagoner’s absence was weather-related and he later turned himself in at the county jail but was sent away because only the most serious offenders were being incarcerated due to the COVID-19 virus.

When it came time to be sentenced, Washam noted that Wagoner has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2004. Wagoner conceded that his life could be characterized as a series of bad decisions.

“I’m not a bad guy, but I chose to make some bad decisions sometimes,” he said.

Washam ended up using his discretion and sentenced Wagoner to 13 months in prison — three months longer than recommended in the plea deal. Wagoner received credit for 109 days spent in the county jail on the charges.

tgiambroni@mojonews.com

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