LIMA — A Lima man who drive under the influence of alcohol and caused a traffic accident that claimed the life of a Wapakoneta woman in 2020 was sentenced Monday to five years in prison.
In a surprise development, Frank Steinke agreed to a deal with prosecutors and pleaded guilty to causing the death of Nicole Schulte of Wapakoneta on March 11, 2020, when his vehicle crossed the center line of state Route 501 and struck Schulte’s vehicle head-on.
Steinke, 65, was indicted by a grand jury on a charge of aggravated vehicular homicide and two counts of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. The case has dragged on slowly since that time.
As part of Monday’s plea agreement the state dismissed one of the OVI charges in exchange for Steinke’s guilty pleas. Allen County Common Pleas Court Judge Jeffrey Reed proceeded directly to sentencing following Steinke’s plea change.
Mike Schulte, the victim’s husband, spoke directly to Steinke before sentence was passed.
“The night you decided to load up with alcohol and get behind the wheel of a car you were very irresponsible. You took the life of an angel that night,” Schulte said. “You sit there with no remorse whatsoever after you took my wife and my children’s mother. All for a useless beer?”
Nicole Schulte’s brother, Sean Watt, asked Reed to impose sentence immediately, saying, “He (Steinke) has had enough time walking around free.”
Steinke’s daughter, Samantha, expressed her “deepest condolences” to the Schulte family and admitted her father “is responsible for why we are all here today.”
She described her father as a “good person with a huge heart” but said he has also caused “guilt, shame, anger and embarrassment that is heart-breaking” with his actions that fateful night.
Steinke himself had few words to say prior to sentencing.
“I just want to say how sorry I am,” he said to the Schulte family. “I made a horrible, horrible mistake and I’ll pay for it for the rest of my life. I am so sorry.”
Prosecutors, with the blessing of the Schulte family, had agreed to the five-year prison term. The sentence is mandatory and Steinke will not be eligible for early release.
Reed, who noted that the Lima man was previously convicted in 2003 and 2005 of driving while intoxicated, followed the sentencing recommendation. He also imposed a $5,000 fine and suspended Steinke’s driver’s license for life.
“It’s cases like this that should make people take account of their lives” before getting behind the wheel after consuming alcohol, the judge said.