Church break-in defendant indicted

Cary Ashby • Jan 17, 2013 at 9:12 AM

A church break-in defendant was one of three local people indicted recently by an Erie County grand jury in connection with separate crimes.

Gregory S. Leigh Sr., 43, of 620 W. Main St., No. 21, Bellevue, faces several felony charges stemming from the break-ins at three different churches. The Erie County Sheriff's Office and Sandusky Police Department investigated the case.

"He was breaking into churches in the area," said Erie County Assistant Prosecutor Ashley Thomas, referring to two Milan churches and one in Sandusky.

While none of the churches reported anything was missing or stolen that reached a "felony level," Thomas said one of the victims reported the theft of a gift card.

The Bellevue Police Department arrested Leigh on Nov. 9 when officers said they caught him at a grocery store reportedly using a gift card stolen from a Bellevue church.

"We had asked employees to keep an eye out for anybody using those cards," Detective Eric Burt said at the time. "About a week later, we got a call."

Police searched Leigh and reported finding four more gift cards in his pockets. During an interview at the station, the suspect told police he bought the cards from some "skaters" outside a church, Burt said.

Since authorities weren't able to link Leigh to the burglaries of 23 churches in Huron, Sandusky, Erie and Ottawa counties at the time, Bellevue police charged him with four misdemeanor counts of receiving stolen property.

Thomas said investigators later were able to connect Leigh to the Sandusky and Milan church break-ins through the gift card he had with him at the Bellevue grocery store.

Earlier this month, the grand jury indicted Leigh on one count each of breaking and entering, safecracking and possession of criminal tools, all in connection with an incident from Nov. 7 through 8. He also faces two more charges of breaking and entering; one felony stems from a Nov. 24 through 25 offense while the other is related to a Nov. 18 incident.

Leigh must post a $100,000 bond before being released from the Erie County Jail.

Two other local suspects who were indicted were:

n Brandon D. Halbisen, 27, of 10307 Skadden Road, Monroeville, on one count each of misuse of credit cards and receiving stolen property.

n Joseph P. Myers, 20, of 13512 Ohio 61, Collins, on aggravated possession of drugs. The sheriff's office investigated the Sept. 7 incident.

In other action, the grand jurors declined to file indictments against Norwalk residents Antonio and Janice Munoz, whose ages weren't provided, both of 13214 Milliman Road. When asked about the allegations in the case, Thomas declined to comment. The prosecutor said no charges are being filed now, but said it's possible in the future.

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