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Published: Monday, 1/3/2005

Restaurateur loses bid to back out of plea deal

FREMONT A Sandusky County judge has refused to allow a former owner of a Fremont-area restaurant that burned down in 2001 to withdraw his no-contest plea to arson and insurance fraud charges.

Richard Heyman, 53, of Swanton was convicted of the two felony charges as part of a plea agreement in May and sentenced in August to one year in prison on the insurance fraud count. Judge Harry Sargeant, Jr., denied a motion last week by Heyman to change his no-contest plea to not guilty.

Besides the prison time, Hey man was given five years probation and ordered to make $17,000 restitution to the Ballville Township Fire Department. J. Patrick O Flaherty s restaurant was destroyed in a fire Feb. 4, 2001. An investigation found the business had a large tax obligation and was under threat of foreclosure.

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