UPDATE: Athens County man gets 9-month sentence in catalytic-converter theft case

2 others accused of stealing 7 converters from Athens auto-repair business
Published: Sep. 18, 2020 at 4:21 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 6, 2020 at 2:43 PM EDT
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ATHENS, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE: 10/6/20 2:30 P.M.

An Athens County man was sentenced Tuesday morning to nine months in prison after pleading guilty to his role in the theft of numerous catalytic converters from an auto-repair shop in Athens.

Jonathan Westerviller, 34, pleaded guilty in Athens County Common Pleas Court to a charge of complicity to theft, a fifth-degree felony.

Westerviller and two other men, James Howerton, 47, and Tyler Ball, 25, both of Nelsonville, were arrested on Sept. 17.

Prosecutors said Westviller acted as a getaway driver for Howerton and Ball during the theft of seven catalytic converters from Athens Transmission on Hebbardsville Road in Athens.

Howerton and Ball both are charged with breaking and entering, grand theft, possessing criminal tools and vandalism.

At the time the men were arrested, prosecutors said Westerviller and had only been out of prison for a week after serving an 18-month sentence for motor-vehicle theft.

After his arrest, prosecutors said Westerviller tried to shift the blame to someone else but authorities later dropped charges against that person.

However, since then, the investigation into catalytic converter thefts in Athens County has resulted in two additional arrests on Monday, including Westerviller’s brother, Robert.

Athens City Police arrested Robert Westerviller, 27, of The Plains, on a breaking-and-entering charge, and the Athens County sheriff’s deputies arrested David L. Willison, 45, of Chauncey on a charge of receiving stolen property. Cases against both men are pending in Athens County Common Pleas Court, prosecutors said.

Three Athens County men are behind bars for their alleged involvement in the theft of catalytic converters from Athens Transmission on Tuesday.

Athens County Sheriff Rodney Smith says high quality security footage from Athens Transmission played a critical role in putting 39 year-old Robert Sheppard of Athens, 35 year-old Tyler Ball of Nelsonville, and 34 year-old Jonathan Westerviller, of The Plains, in jail.

Sheppard and Ball were arrested Thursday on charges of breaking and entering, theft, and possession of criminal tools. Those are all fifth degree felonies.

Westerviller is charged with complicity to theft, which is also a fifth degree felony.

All three men were taken to the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail.

Sheriff Rodney Smith says he will not tolerate the continued theft of catalytic converters in Athens County.

“My staff and I are dedicated to end the overwhelming theft of catalytic converters from innocent citizens of Athens County. To those of you who chose to continue to steal and illegally buy or sell catalytic converters, I will personally make sure there is room at the Southeastern Ohio Regional Jail for you,” said Smith.

This investigation is ongoing and more charges are expected.

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