"I fully intend to pay the victims."
That what's defendant Matthew S. Griggs told Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway at Thursday's sentencing hearing.
As part of the man's three years of probation, Griggs must pay more than $19,000 to three victims -- two women and a man. Conway warned him his community control sanctions could be extended to five years if he doesn't pay the restitution by March 14, 2016.
Huron County Public Defender David Longo said his client thinks the amount is high, "but he's not going to contest it."
In January, Griggs, 30, of 1243 S. Norwalk Road, pleaded guilty to theft for an Aug. 14 offense. He also was convicted of attempted tampering with evidence for a crime between July 14 and 21.
Griggs stole jewelry from an elderly victim several times while his girlfriend was house-sitting for her, Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper said. The Norwalk Police Department investigated the case.
One of the victims, a local business owner, said Griggs stole jewelry from the two female victims and sold it to him.
"He told me it was (from) his grandfather's estate," the man said.
"Mr. Griggs approached me several times. He said he was going to pay me back before his sentencing date," the victim said. "He never came back with the money. He said he was close."
The victim said Griggs told him the money for the jewelry would support him going to school to become a firefighter.
"We purchased the items back in July," the man said. "I feel (like I am) as much as a victim as the other two."
In court, the business owner spoke directly to Griggs.
"Matthew, you lied to me," he said. "I'm a Christian. I forgive you, but you need to pay your debts."
Longo said he believes his client's remorse is genuine.
"He didn't try to spread any blame around," Longo said. "I do believe he wants to address his (substance abuse) problems. I believe he wants to pay his debt."
The state recommended the judge sentence Griggs to a jail term or spend four to six months in a community-based corrections facility, a form of prison which focuses on substance abuse treatment and education.
"He took advantage of his relationship with the victims," Kasper said. "We believe Mr. Griggs deserves and earned some jail time."
The court imposed a 180-day sentence at the Huron County Jail on the work release program. However, Conway said he would be willing to drop the term down to 90 days if Griggs has valid employment and transportation by his report time and date -- 5 p.m. May 3.
If Griggs violates the terms of his probation, he faces 18 months in prison.