Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Judge Peter J. Corrigan sentenced Christopher Harvath, 41, his brother Joseph Harvath, 42, and Carl Deditch, 37, to prison terms ranging from five to 14 years for the crimes.
From Nov. 23 until Dec. 11, the trio broke into cars parked at apartment complexes and stole items including cars, televisions, iPads, power tools, cell phones, clothing, wallets, cash, checks, gift cards, credit cards, license plates, garage door openers, and Christmas trees. Fourteen separate incidents were reported in the 12 Cuyahoga County cities, including Cleveland, Parma, Beachwood, Broadview Heights, Shaker Heights, Strongsville, Euclid and Lyndhurst.
Police caught the Horvaths Dec. 11 when they drove a 2010 Honda Accord they had stolen in Lakewood to Hyland Software in Westlake and attempted to swap its license plates with the plates on an employee’s car parked in the lot. Hyland workers saw the men on security cameras about 1 p.m. and confronted them, prompting a fight. The workers caught the older brother and held him for Westlake police, but Christopher Harvath drove off in the stolen car, leading to a chase in Bay Village then back into Westlake.
He was arrested shortly afterward on Detroit Road near Cahoon Road in Westlake, where the Accord had collided with several other cars. Four people in the other cars were taken to UH St. John Medical Center in Westlake and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.
On Dec. 5, Shaker Heights police and the Cleveland Police Department’s Airport Unit arrested Deditch in a parking lot at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport.
“It’s appropriate they’re getting jail time for these incidents,” said Westlake Police Capt. Jerry Vogel. “It’s clear that they have a pattern of getting into criminal incidents, so we’re glad to have them going to jail for what they did.”
Investigators linked the trio to the crimes through surveillance video, fingerprints, DNA evidence and witnesses, said Cuyahoga County Prosecutor Michael O’Malley.
“Christopher and Joseph Harvath are career criminals who have preyed upon the citizens of Cuyahoga County for far too long,” O’Malley said. “They will no longer be able to wreak havoc in our communities, thanks to the diligent work of all law enforcement agencies involved.”
Fairview Park police Lt. Paul Shepard said the Harvaths broke into cars in apartment building garages in Fairview as well as Rocky River and Lakewood.
Christopher Harvath pleaded guilty to 21 charges that included robbery, burglary, aggravated vehicular assault, grand theft, breaking and entering, failure to comply, receiving stolen property and drug possession. He was sentenced to 14 years in prison and ordered to pay $8,775.95 in restitution.
Joseph Harvath pleaded guilty to 10 charges that included robbery, burglary, grand theft, breaking and entering and receiving stolen property. He was sentenced to eight years in prison and ordered to pay $6,697.30 in restitution.
Deditch pleaded guilty to four charges that included burglary and attempted burglary. He was sentenced to five years in prison.
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