Boardman contractor gets 90 days in jail for theft

LISBON — A Boardman area contractor who deprived people of money and failed to do promised construction work in Columbiana County was sentenced to 90 days in jail and three years of community control by Judge Scott Washam for three counts of theft by deception Friday.

John P. Bartos, 41, of Youngstown, took money from three clients and failed to do the contracted work of installing windows and doors as part of his company, Gridiron Windows and Doors in Columbiana County.

Bartos deprived Cara and Glenn Dilworth of $3,500 from June 29, 2022 to Jan. 11, 2023, who were able to cancel the credit card and were not out any money; James and Lyndsey Walker of $2,500 from July 25, 2022 to Jan. 9, 2023; and Kimberly Salmen of $2,500 from Feb. 22, 2022 to March 15, 2023.

Members of Bartos’ defense counsel, David Betras and Frank Cassese, argued against jail time by pointing out that Bartos has made restitution to all the victims he stole money from — even those in Mahoning, Summit and Trumbull counties, and western Pennsylvania — and he has served 110 days in jail.

Washam considered the fact that the restitution had been paid and that Bartos seemed to be a changed man, but the “sheer number of cases” Bartos had been involved in in different areas indicated to Washam that he had already been given “more than a second chance.”

“I do think that the fact that you have paid restitution is significant in this case. And I think it’s probably the reason why the state is recommending a community control sanction,” Washam said.

The maximum jail term could have been 12 months for the charges he faced, Washam said.

Cassese proposed Bartos perform construction work for Habitat for Humanity on a home in Salem, and presented a letter from the organization saying they could use his help with materials and labor.

“I think that you can achieve the purposes of sentencing by punishing him and also make him give back to his community,” Cassese said. “Sometimes I think people forget, when we go through this system and prosecutors prosecute cases every day and defense lawyers, they defend cases regularly, and judges hear cases,” he said. “The system can become callous at times.”

“Obviously you’re a talented and skilled person with the work that you do,” Washam said. “But that’s the whole point, Mr. Bartos — is you took money from people and didn’t do the work despite promising them that you would.”

Bartos gave an impassioned statement where he broke down multiple times, apologized to everyone involved, and said that he is now a devoted family man and man of God.

“I’ve spent 110 days in jail throughout three different counties,” Bartos said. “And I’m blessed to say that I truly feel like I am a changed man.”

Bartos said that when he first started, he was an immature business owner who made a lot of “bad mistakes personally and financially,” as he choked up.

He said his company took on 82 jobs in 2023 and all the jobs have been completed and the customers are satisfied with their work.

He said he has two small children at home, an 8-year-old girl and his “best friend in the entire world,” his son, who is about to turn 5.

“Both of my children would be devastated if I wasn’t with them for one day,” Bartos said.

Betras requested for Bartos to self-report to jail after attending his daughter’s first Holy Communion this past Saturday, but the request was denied.

“I’m not going to permit a self-report. This case has been pending long enough,” Washam said.

A recent client of Bartos’, Richard Wheeler, and Bartos’ priest, the Rev. Michael Swierz of St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Hubbard, were called by Betras to testify on behalf of Bartos’ character.

Wheeler has worked in law enforcement and public service nearly his whole life and said he took a chance on hiring Bartos to do work on his house, even knowing the charges against him.

“I wanted to hear his story because usually when you’re into something like this, it’s drugs and alcohol, while this was gambling,” Wheeler said. “After talking to him for some time, we hired him and he installed five windows and a sliding glass door and I couldn’t be more pleased with his work.”

“I’ll go sit in jail with him if he ever committed another crime again,” he said.

Swierz said that Bartos’ dad is a deacon and his mom is director of religious education at the church and Bartos himself is an active attending member.

“I’ve seen a big change in where he’s been and where he is now,” Swierz said.



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