VERMILLION TWP -- Former Vermillion Township trustee Samuel Yeater plans to attend the Dec. 21 Trustee’s meeting to offer a public apology.
Yeater was sentenced last Friday for one theft-in-office charge and three misdemeanor charges.
Visiting judge Daniel Hogan sentenced Yeater to 30 days at the Ashland County Jail and three years of community control for charges, which relate to the misuse of trustee funds to purchase personal items. He will not be allowed to hold public office again.
Ashland Source obtained the audio recording of the sentencing earlier this week, after the public livestream equipment failed Friday.
“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Yeater said. “These actions were committed at the time when I was about to lose my farm because of financial difficulties.
“Since my arrest and jail time that I’ve served, I have been in counseling and spend many hours with my pastor getting myself right again.”
Yeater was arrested earlier this year and spent two days in jail, which will count as credit towards his 30-day sentence.
Yeater was sentenced to nine months with the Ohio Department Rehabilitation and Correction and a fine of $500 for the felony charge. However, the nine months will be suspended so long as Yeater successfully completes three years of community control.
Additionally, he was sentenced to 30 days in the Ashland County Jail for each misdemeanor charge with sentences running concurrently. This jail sentence runs concurrently with the sentence for the felony charges, too.
Yeater must also complete 40 hours of community service and pay the cost of the proceeding and pay $861.53 in restitution. Yeater proactively paid the restitution earlier this year when changing his plea.
Originally, Yeater faced seven charges: three misdemeanor charges for petty theft, three felony charges for theft in office and one felony charge for forgery.
On Oct. 26, Yeater pleaded guilty to one count of theft-in-office, two counts of petty theft and one count of attempted forgery. The forgery felony charge was amended to an attempted forgery, a misdemeanor charge. Two other theft-in-office charges and another petty theft charge were dismissed.
During last week's sentencing, James Mayer III, Yeater’s attorney, asked Judge Hogan to put Yeater on a period of community control.
“This felony conviction constitutes my client’s first felony conviction on his record,” said Mayer. “At the time, he was working as a farmer and had been for a number of years. (He) began to fall on some difficult financial times as it related to the farm.
“He even had some other issues with his mother and some health problems. All came together. It caused him to get behind financially, and he took advantage of his position of trust with the Vermillion Township and did in fact commit these theft-related offenses."
Before the hearing concluded, Judge Hogan gave Yeater a warning that future incidents would lead to harsher punishments.
“Because of this conviction of theft in office, you’re never going to hold any kind of a public office, and you’re never going to hold any sort of office of trust with the government,” Hogan said. “I hope that you and I never meet like this again. If we do, it’s probably because you have messed up somehow."
After selling all his farm equipment, Yeater said he is getting out of the farming business and is currently employed full-time in Ashland.
“For the first time in many years, I actually look forward to getting up in the morning and going to work,” Yeater said. “The stress in my life is gone because of this, and I’m in a much better place than I was six months to a year ago.
“I work hard every day to do what is right in my life, what I should be doing for myself, and my family, and anyone else I come in contact with.”