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Appliance store owner pleads guilty to theft and agrees to pay $35,000 in restitution | Crime and courts

CROWN POINT — A former St. John appliance store owner pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $35,000 from 18 customers who paid for items he never delivered.

Erik W. Schneider, 44, of Lowell, convicted of theft, a class A misdemeanor.

Lake Criminal Court Judge Salvador Vasquez accepted his plea deal and sentenced him to an agreed term of one year in prison, suspended in favor of probation.

In exchange for Schneider’s plea and restitution agreement, Lake County prosecutors dismissed one count of corrupt business influence and one count of theft, both felony Level 5 felonies.

Schneider agreed to pay a total of approximately $35,350 in restitution, with some of the money to be paid to his 18 victims up front and some in installments over the following year.

According to the plea agreement, Schneider operated Hometown Appliances, 11130 W. 93rd Ave., from November 1, 2018 through December 31, 2019.

He collected money from the 18 people who expected the devices to be delivered at a later date. Schneider never delivered and did not return some or all of the money it collected from customers, records show.

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According to the charging documents, Schneider was first charged with defrauding 32 clients out of more than $85,000. It often offered a “special discount” if customers paid cash, according to the records.

Schneider was represented by attorney Joshua Mahler. Jovanni Miramontes handled the case for the state.