(DAYTON, Ohio)—Attorney General Mike DeWine said Christopher Gibbs, the second of three individuals charged in a tree-trimming scam that targeted the elderly in Greene, Franklin, Butler, and Montgomery counties, was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison and ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $32,940. The case represents a collaboration among the Attorney General's Office, the Greene County Prosecuting Attorney, and other law enforcement agencies.
"Working with other law enforcement around the state, as we did in this case, is important in helping to protect Ohioans from fraud," said Attorney General DeWine. "We are committed to protecting Ohio's families, especially the elderly who are often targeted in scams like this one."
The enterprise deceived victims into believing they needed tree trimming or lawn care work because their trees were diseased, damaged, or unsafe. The individuals accepted money for work that was never completed, and infiltrated legitimate tree trimming companies to trick their victims into believing they were working with credible businesses.
Gibbs, 25, pled guilty last December to one count of Conspiracy to Engage in a Pattern of Corrupt Activity, two counts of Theft from an Elderly Person, and one count of Attempted Theft from an Elderly Person.
As one of three scammers, Gibbs' restitution represented a third of the restitution owed to the victims. His three-year prison sentence will be served consecutive to other sentences he is serving for Clark, Montgomery, and Butler counties. The resulting total sentence is eight years.
The investigation into this criminal enterprise involved a cooperative effort among law enforcement officers from the Greene County A.C.E. Task Force, the Greene County Sheriff's Office, the West Chester Police Department, the Kettering Police Department, and the Ohio Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division.
Led by Principal Assistant Attorney General Jonathan Blanton, the Attorney General's Economic Crimes Division works to identify potential criminal cases from the Consumer Protection Section, present them to local law enforcement, and coordinate assistance from the Ohio Attorney General's Office to aid in their prosecution.
Gibbs is the second defendant to plead guilty in this case. Timothy Henery pled guilty last October to related charges and was placed on Community Control for five years, required to attend a community-based correctional facility for in-house drug treatment, and ordered to pay $32,940 in restitution.
The trial of the third defendant, Jason Johnson, is scheduled for March.
Lisa Hackley: 614-466-3840
Mark Moretti: 614-466-3840