BOWLING GREEN -- The former owner of Lil Sheba's bar in Toledo has been sentenced to eight years in prison and her daughter-in-law sentenced to five years for their roles in an enterprise that purchased stolen food stamp cards, gift cards, and merchandise.
Thelma Fowler, 69, of Temperance and her daughter-in-law, Michelle Betz, 43, of Sylvania each pleaded guilty in March in Wood County Common Pleas Court to engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, trafficking, or illegal use of food stamps, and receiving stolen property. Betz's husband, Herbie Betz, was convicted following a jury trial last month of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, money laundering, two counts of illegal use of food stamps, and four counts of receiving stolen property. He is to be sentenced June 26.
Common Pleas Judge Robert Pollex imposed the prison sentences Tuesday, telling Betz that she, her husband, and mother-in-law may not have seen themselves as thieves, but when they purchased the food stamps and gift cards at Lil Sheba's and converted them to cash, they were supporting the drug habits of the 60 or so people who were involved in the scam.
Judge Pollex said Fowler, Betz, and their 60 co-defendants would be responsible for paying $250,000 in restitution.