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Car thieves await sentencing

LISBON — Two county residents charged in Common Pleas Court with taking vehicles which did not belong to them pleaded guilty to charges on Wednesday before Judge Megan Bickerton.

David Michael Lee Liptay, 19, state Route 14, Columbiana, pleaded guilty to grand theft of a motor vehicle and failure to comply with an order or signal of a police officer.

On June 28, 2019, Liptay took a 1997 Chevy Camaro belonging to Shawn Mason and fled from police attempting to stop him. A driving under suspension citation will be dismissed at the time of sentencing.

Chief Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble said as part of the plea agreement there was no recommended agreement for sentencing. The charges carry a possible four and a half years in prison, a $15,000 fine and a mandatory license suspension that could run between three years to a lifetime ban.

Liptay’s defense attorney, James Wise, indicated they will seek community control for Liptay, who said he is still attending high school.

Nikki Jo Koffel, 31, Morton Street, East Liverpool, pleaded guilty to two of the four charges she was facing, grand theft of a motor vehicle and possession of criminal tools.

On Oct. 9, 2019, Koffel had a 1996 Toyota pickup belonging to Jared Clark and had used a screwdriver in order to steal the vehicle. Charges of drug paraphernalia and escape will be dismissed at the time of sentencing, according to Assistant County Prosecutor Alec Beech. The escape charge, which also was alleged to have happened on Oct. 9, had some evidentiary problems because Koffel was accused of walking away from a hospital in Mahoning County while she was in custody.

She is still facing up to two and a half years in prison and a fine up to $7,500. Beech said he will ask for an 18-month prison sentence. Bickerton denied a motion by defense attorney Colleen Hall-Dailey to reduce Koffel’s bond, which has kept her in the county jail for about seven months.

Sentencing hearings in both Koffel and Liptay’s cases are scheduled for Oct. 19.

djohnson@mojonews.com

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