Zepeda’s diversion plan revoked; sentencing set for Dec. 20

Andrew "Z" Zepeda was found guilty of theft, complicity to breaking and entering, and failure to remit sales tax.

BOWLING GREEN — Andrew Zepeda got his first break in court when he was ordered into treatment for an alcohol problem rather than sent to prison for orchestrating a break-in at his now-defunct pizza business.

The Star 105 morning radio host got a second break after he violated the terms of his intervention plan by going into two area bars and still was allowed to avoid criminal prosecution.

On Friday, his luck ran out.

After hearing evidence that Zepeda had taken part in a celebrity boxing match where alcohol was served, Wood County Common Pleas Judge Alan Mayberry canceled the intervention plan and found Zepeda, 43, of Perrysburg, guilty of theft, complicity to breaking and entering, and failure to remit sales tax. Sentencing on the three felonies was set for Dec. 20.

"[Zepeda] came before the court and said, ‘I have a problem with alcohol. Therefore I should not be held criminally responsible for this. Instead I should go into treatment,’ ” Judge Mayberry said. “The treatment was followed by conditions which are, you do not go anywhere that serves alcohol.”

Zepeda’s attorney, Beau Harvey, argued unsuccessfully that his client had complied with nearly all the conditions of his intervention plan, that he had not consumed alcohol, and that he should not be penalized for appearing at a charity event even if alcohol was served.

Judge Mayberry said Zepeda was sternly warned last summer after coming before the court on allegations he had gone to Fat Fish Blue/Funny Bone Comedy Club at Levis Commons and was filmed drinking what appeared to be champagne in a music video shot at Quimby’s bar in Toledo. The court “made it abundantly clear that there was no Chuck E. Cheese, there was no baseball game, there was no anywhere where alcohol was served,” the judge said.

On the witness stand, Zepeda admitted his probation officer had advised him to ask the judge if he could attend the boxing event, which was a benefit for the International Boxing Club of Toledo, but he could not afford to hire an attorney.

“A hundred percent my fault,” Zepeda said. “The last couple of years have been tough. I was unemployed for six months and then I’ve been underemployed even up to now from where I was before, and I had to file for bankruptcy, so money was just tight.”

Zepeda told the court Friday that the bankruptcy court had recently released $20,000 to pay to the state of Ohio toward the nearly $41,000 he owes in restitution. His employer, Cumulus Media, had agreed to pay the remaining $20,000, he said.

It was unclear whether the man known as “Andrew Z in the Morning” would still have a job. Matt Spaulding, Cumulus Toledo general manager, declined to comment after the hearing.

Zepeda said afterward that he felt he had followed the spirit of the court’s order.

“You fight back, and to go down for a charity event is tough,” he said.

“Andrew thought that he was helping out a local charity,” Mr. Harvey said afterward. “Unfortunately it turned out to be a violation of his probation. I certainly respect the judge’s opinion as well as the prosecutor’s right to bring the allegations, but I don’t think the community is better served by the result.”

Zepeda was convicted of arranging a break-in at the former Andrew Z’s Pizzeria at Levis Commons in October, 2010, with the intention of getting property from inside after he was evicted for failing to pay his rent on the restaurant. He also failed to pay sales tax from the business between March and September, 2010. He faces six to 18 months in prison for theft and failure to remit sales tax and between six and 12 months for complicity to breaking and entering.

Judge Mayberry allowed Zepeda to remain free on his own recognizance until sentencing, but said the conditions listed in the intervention plan remain in place.

“At any location where alcohol is served by anyone for any purpose whether there’s a license, whether there’s a building, whether there’s a tent, whether it’s outside — no alcohol in your vicinity,” the judge said. “You see it. You run. Are we clear?”

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.