MEDINA, Ohio (Jan. 3, 2001)—A former store manager at Smetzer´s Tire Center in Medina—charged with stealing $100,000 from the dealership—has agreed to make restitution in order to avoid a prison sentence.
David C. Peters, 39, pleaded guilty to theft charges and was sentenced Dec. 15 to five years probation and will be required to pay Smetzer Tire $1,666.67 per month for the next five years.
Judge Christopher Collier of the Medina County Court of Common Pleas told Mr. Peters he would be sent to prison if he fails to repay the company.
According to Medina police, Mr. Peters was convicted of theft in 1989 from another northeast Ohio tire dealership and was required to repay $20,000 while on probation.
Police said Mr. Peters worked for Smetzer Tire for about three years and ordered building supplies, a trailer, computer equipment and go-carts through Smetzer Tire accounts. He also stole tires from the company and traded them for computer equipment from the local school system.
Fictitious customer accounts were created to hide the transactions and Mr. Peters disposed of the invoices when they arrived, authorities said.
Ken Smetzer, owner and president of Smetzer Tire, said he failed to notice the thefts because he was preoccupied with construction of a new building for a Michelin Retread Technologies Inc. plant. Smetzer Tire had been an Oliver Rubber Co. retreader.
After Mr. Peters was fired by Smetzer Tire last year for allegedly stealing tires and putting them on his van, past due invoices for the stolen goods began to appear and the company´s accountant also found errors while switching records to a new computer system.
In July, Mr. Peters was arrested and charged with theft.
"It´s nice to have that over with," Mr. Smetzer said, adding that he´s learned to check an applicant´s background more thoroughly before hiring someone.
"This was a terrible way to learn this," he said, "I´ve paid my tuition."