Two in $1M burglary and arson ring get probation

Jessica Gonzalez stands at her sentencing hearing Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court with her attorney, Lou DeFabio. She was sentenced to two years of probation and ordered to pay $900 of restitution for her role in a $1 million arson and burglary scheme in Mahoning, Trumbull and Ashtabula counties. Staff photo / Ed Runyan

YOUNGSTOWN — Jessica Gonzalez, 54, of Forest View Drive, was sentenced to two years of probation Tuesday and ordered to pay $900 in restitution for her misdemeanor conviction in a three-county, seven-person, $1 million arson and burglary ring.

Dan Kasaris, an assistant Ohio attorney general who prosecuted the nearly 3-year-old case, said Gonzalez “did provide assistance to the state … with what she believed happened the night that Tricia Floyd’s house burned down.”

She was sentenced to 30 days in the Mahoning County jail, but she got credit for six days already served, and the remaining days were suspended. She may be able to have her probation ended early if she abides by the requirements of her sentencing.

A July 2023 indictment in the case alleged that Gonzalez and others burglarized a home on Garland Avenue in Youngstown to find evidence that might implicate the members of the enterprise in criminal activity and “and to seize and destroy such evidence.”

Floyd, 71, was considered the “leader of the organization whose purpose is to defraud insurance companies into paying out large sums of cash or to obtain money by other fraudulent means,” the indictment states.

Floyd’s convictions included theft for filing a fraudulent insurance claim involving her home on Atkinson Road on the East Side. The so-called “Floyd Gang” set the house on fire in February 2016. Then Floyd filed a fraudulent claim with Allstate “as to who the arsonist was,” according to her indictment. Allstate paid $260,236 on the claim.

The indictments said Floyd and co-defendant James Kellar “successfully burned down several structures in Mahoning and Trumbull counties and collected over $1 million in insurance proceeds from several different insurance companies.”

Gonzalez’s attorney, Lou DeFabio, said Tuesday that Gonzalez has been “gainfully employed” and has not been in trouble with the law in the years since the case arose. She also has appeared for her hearings, DeFabio said.

When Gonzalez spoke, she said she is self-employed because this case made it impossible for her to work a traditional job. Then she said, “Yes, there are certain aspects” of the charges “that are slightly true, but they completely snowballed into something that was not true.”

She added that she “lost everyone in my life since this happened,” including her grandmother and mother, and “I lost my job and I struggled.”

Keller, 52, formerly of Niles, also was sentenced Tuesday. Kellar is now living in Montana. He was sentenced to one year of nonreporting probation for his six low-level felony convictions — three of insurance fraud, two of attempted arson and one of forgery.

Kellar, who formerly was known as Heather Kellar, was sentenced through a video hookup. He told the judge he is homeless and living in his car and thanked the judge for not requiring him to return to Ohio for the sentencing hearing because he could not afford such a trip.

Kasaris, who prosecuted the nearly 3-year-old case, said Kellar “did provide substantial cooperation in this case as it relates to his co-defendants. He fully cooperated. We believe he was truthful,” Kasaris said.

He noted that Kellar did pick up a misdemeanor conviction in Trumbull County last year after getting into a dispute with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and spending some time in the Trumbull County jail. But he has never been to prison before.

Judge John Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court said Kellar got 30 days in jail on the Niles case, and his sentence of probation is similar to what other co-defendants have gotten in the arson and burglary ring.

“But for the misdemeanor conviction recently, you have led a period of law-abiding life and in-effect have been on supervision since the time when you posted bond in this case, dating back almost three years ago,” the judge said.

The judge added that Kellar’s probation is nonreporting because the judge does not know how Kellar would perform reporting probation “since you are in Montana and homeless.”

Floyd, 71, of Youngstown pleaded guilty to seven low-level felony offenses in the enterprise and was sentenced last month to one year of probation.

Judge Durkin said Floyd could neither be imprisoned nor forced to pay restitution for the thefts because of her severe health problems and because she is “indigent,” meaning unable to pay for her own lawyer.

Floyd’s daughter, Kyrene Rodriguez, 38, of Lois Court in Youngstown, was sentenced to one year of probation during the same hearing as her mother last month. She was convicted of accepting a car “and other considerations” to set fire to a house.

There is one defendant who has not yet been sentenced. Theodore E. Dozier-Wynn, also known as Ted Wynn, 29, of Youngstown. He was supposed to be sentenced Tuesday, but it was reset to 9 a.m. May 2. Wynn pleaded guilty to several felony offenses.

Have an interesting story? Email Ed Runyan at erunyan@vindy.com


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