A 39-year-old Norwalk man was sentenced to prison for stealing more than $19,000 from three families, including his own.
Dale McClaflin, of 12 Reed St., was sent to prison for 4 1/2 years by Judge James Conway during an emotional sentence hearing in the Huron County Common Pleas Court Tuesday.
"Now, that guy is a piece of work," Prosecutor Russell Leffler said following the hearing.
Leffler said McClaflin's drug habit consisted mainly of abusing prescription medications that motivated his crimes.
McClaflin's drug addition has landed him in trouble more than once, according to New London Police Chief Mike Marko. In fact, that is how authorities were able to connect him to the three burglaries that occurred three, four and five years ago.
When McClaflin was being interviewed by New London Police during his stay at a Lorain County jail for a drug offense, McClaflin confessed to the burglaries.
"Prison humbles some people. He finally just admitted he did it," Marko said.
A fingerprint found on a safe stolen from a New London residence belonged to McClaflin, according to test results obtained from a crime laboratory, Marko said. That evidence was the link New London Police needed to start questioning him.
"I want Dale to go to prison ... I hate to leave my house because I hate to go home for fear of what I will find ... I trust no one because of you," a female relative of the defendant said during the hearing in regards to recalling her home being burglarized.
Another of the victims had waited years to have cherry cabinets installed in her kitchen as part of a remodeling effort, the woman's son told the court.
When McClaflin entered the residence, he tore the new cabinets apart and destroyed the newly remodeled kitchen looking for a safe where the residents kept a savings of cash.
"My mother has to pay $80 a month for a security system for the rest of her life because of you," the man told McClaflin.
Another victim, who is related to McClaflin, told him that watching him go through the court hearing was "the hardest thing (he's) ever done."
"I hope you get your life straightened out and become a better person," the man said.
McClaflin also spoke during the hearing saying he was remorseful for the "irreparable damage" he'd done to his friends and family to support his drug habit. "I should have never done that to them," McClaflin said.
McClaflin stole $17,063, $1,855 and $645 from the three victims during the three separate incidents, Conway said.
And, even through McClaflin spoke of remorse during the hearing, Conway told him his failure to make the situation right for such a long period of time indicated otherwise.
"I believe he does regret (the crimes)," defense attorney David Longo told the court. "I just ask you temper justice with mercy," Longo added.
The economic and psychological impact of the three cases was significant, Conway told McClaflin before handing down the sentence.
Additionally, Conway said prison was the best option due to McClaflin's past, he said.
McClaflin also was ordered to pay back each of the victims as part of restitution.