Suspect Charged With Luring Man Using Craigslist Ad Pleads Guilty

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One of two men charged with luring a man to an apartment using a Craigslist advertisement pleaded guilty in Athens County Common Pleas Court Tuesday.

Michael Nowell was indicted on charges of aggravated robbery, conspiracy and telecommunications fraud — all felonies — for an incident that took place in August. A superceding indictment was filed in March changing the aggravated robbery charge in Nowell's case to a second-degree felony robbery charge.

Nowell entered the guilty plea as part of a plea agreement with the Athens County Prosecutor's Office. The prosecution recommended that the conspiracy and telecommunications fraud charges be merged into the robbery charge. A sentence of five years of community control with an underlying sentence of seven years was recommended by Assistant Prosecutor T.L. Warren.

Judge L. Alan Goldsberry ordered a pre-sentence report be conducted on Nowell, along with an evaluation into his eligibility for a community-based correctional facility. 

Sentencing in the case was set for June 2.

Nowell originally pleaded not guilty to the charges on March 12, according to court documents. His co-defendant, Jace Johnson, 19, was arraigned and pleaded not guilty on March 3. 

In both cases, the men are charged with committing robbery with a deadly weapon upon a Nelsonville man at an apartment on Route 691, according to previous Messenger reporting. The two are also charged with telecommunications fraud, for devising a “scheme to defraud” and transmitting data “with purpose to execute or otherwise further the scheme to defraud.”

On Aug. 2, according to a bill of particulars that was filed in Johnson’s case, the two men planned the commission of the robbery after they “sought to entice men responding to a fictitious Craigslist personal advertisement to come to their apartment so that they could steal from them by threat of force…”

In Johnson's indictment and Nowell's original indictment, both were charged with brandishing a deadly weapon, listed as a Stinger AR style airsoft rifle.

Police officers were dispatched to the apartment on the report of a man being robbed at gunpoint. The victim told police the two men had given him a verbal command to get on the ground and that one man had brandished a weapon. The victim fled and called 911 from a nearby house, according to court documents.