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Crawford County man facing prison, high restitution after refusing to sign vehicle over to Butler Twp. dealership

A Crawford County man was given a prison sentence Thursday, Sept. 21, and could be ordered to pay more than $69,000 in restitution for buying a vehicle with a check from an account with insufficient funds and refusing to relinquish the vehicle.

Justin Michael Ernst, 24, of Cochranton, was sentenced to serve 18 to 60 months in state prison and pay $14,190 in restitution to Baglier Buick after pleading guilty to a felony charge of theft by deception and a misdemeanor charge of bad checks filed by Butler Township police following a Feb. 10 incident.

Ernst, who appeared for his sentencing hearing in Butler County Common Pleas Court by video from the county prison, declined an offer from Assistant District Attorney Mark Lope to sign over the vehicle’s title to the dealership.

Judge Kelley Streib told Ernst that the $14,190 in restitution covers the cost of the damages to the vehicle, but the vehicle cost about $55,000 and that amount would be added to his restitution if he didn’t sign over the title.

She said the dealership has the vehicle, but can’t resell it because it doesn’t have the title.

The restitution would be part of the sentence, which would remain open until the sum is paid in full, Streib said.

“The court will seek that money until the day you die,” Streib said.

After Ernst said he understood, Streib gave Lope 10 days to file a motion for the additional restitution.

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