BY ED GEBERT
Times Bulletin Editor
VAN WERT - The man thought to be the owner of the Black Swamp Bistro appeared in Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas Wednesday morning facing seven felony charges.
Michael Gregory Johnson, 55, Van Wert, was charged with four counts of forgery, one count of passing bad checks, one count of theft, and one count of theft by deception, each charge a felony of the fifth degree. He pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Last month, Johnson was arrested on felony theft and misdemeanor bigamy charges. No bigamy charge was mentioned in court on Wednesday. It was mentioned that Johnson's claim of ownership of the restaurant in Van Wert figures heavily in the case against him.
Assistant County Prosecuting Attorney Martin Burchfield asked for a large cash bond due to Johnson's "extensive criminal record." Bond was set at a quarter of a million dollars cash. A pretrial hearing in the case against Johnson was scheduled for Nov. 13.A man and a woman charged with burglarizing homes by having one distract the homeowners to enable the other to take possessions from the house.
Savannah Williams, 27, Mendon, pleaded not guilty to complicity in burglary, a felony of the second degree, while Daniel Burke, 38, Reynoldsburg, pleaded not guilty to second-degree felony burglary. The two were arrested in October after the public was enlisted to capture suspects. Both Williams and Burke have pretrial hearings set for Nov. 13. Williams was ordered held on a $100,000 cash bond and Burke was ordered held on a $250,000 cash bond in the Van Wert County Jail.
An 18-year-old Ohio City man was arraigned on three felony counts. Harley Maroney pleaded not guilty to first-degree felony rape, and two counts of third-degree felony gross sexual imposition. He was released on bond with a pretrial hearing set for Nov. 20.
Robert Stoller, 31, Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to a second-degree felony count of endangering children. He was released on bond and ordered to attend a pretrial hearing on Nov. 20.
Robert Keipper, 18, Van Wert, was arraigned on two counts of second-degree felony burglary and one count of fifth-degree felony breaking and entering. Keipper pleaded not guilty and was released on bond. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for Nov. 20.
Logan Linton, 21, Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to abusing harmful intoxicants, a felony of the fifth degree. Linton had recently moved from Kentucky where he has six convictions on the same offense. He was ordered held on a $25,000 cash bond. A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 13.
Tausha Walsh, 40, Van Wert, was arraigned on two drug charges. Walsh is charged with fifth-degree felony possession of methamphetamine, and fifth-degree felony possession of drugs. She pleaded not guilty to both charges and was released on bond. A pretrial hearing is scheduled for Nov. 20.
Stacy Young, 36, Van Wert, was also arraigned for fifth-degree felony possession of methamphetamine and fifth-degree felony possession of drugs. Young pleaded not guilty to both charges. She was released on bond and ordered to appear at a pretrial hearing on Nov. 20.
Grant Albright, 37, Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to possession of methamphetamine, a felony of the fifth degree. Albright was released on bond with a pretrial hearing set for Nov. 20.
Nicholas Bendele, 30, Van Wert, pleaded not guilty to a fifth-degree felony charge of possession of drugs. Bendele was released on bond. A pretrial hearing is set for Nov. 20.