Lima landlord pleads not guilty to theft of electricity

By J Swygart -

LIMA — A Lima landlord has pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of theft in connection to his alleged use of electricity that was being billed to his tenant.

Christopher Warthem, of 728 N. West St., was arrested March 19 and entered the plea during his arraignment hearing Wednesday afternoon in Lima Municipal Court, according to Rick Eddy, chief prosecutor for the city of Lima.

Warthem was arrested on the theft charge after his tenant, Eryk McNeal, who lived upstairs at the North West Street residence, notified Lima police in early February of his suspicion that Warthem, who lived downstairs in the dwelling, had altered a breaker box at the home and was using electricity that was being billed to McNeal by American Electric Power.

According to a Lima Police Department report, McNeal told officers the downstairs unit had “not had (electric) power for a long time” but downstairs lights had recently become visible. McNeal said ever since Warthem moved back into the North West Street dwelling his (McNeal’s) monthly electric bill had tripled. He also alleges that AEP has confirmed Warthem’s electricity had been shut off in the middle of December.

Eddy said he could not comment further on a pending case.

By J Swygart

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