diesel mechanic sentenced

Tuesday, March 06, 2018 10:11 AM
Written by Stan Maddux
Category: Local News

A diesel mechanic is not going to prison but he's having to pay back the numerous customers he took to the cleaners.

Erik Smith, 41, of Wheatfield received one-year on probation when his plea of guilty to five counts of level 6 felony conversion and one level 6 felony count of deception was accepted February 28 in LaPorte Circuit Court.

He must also pay $18,500 to nine victims, including the town of Wanatah overbilled when a rebuilt engine was placed into a dump truck instead of a new one as promised.

According to court documents, Smith operated ''Steroid Diesel'' shops in Wanatah and Westville.

He allegedly received money up front to perform major engine work on pick-up trucks and other heavy machinery in 2014 and 2015.

Things started unraveling, though, when customers wondering why the work

hadn't been finished weeks later began showing up to take back their properties, court records disclosed.

By then, police said the shop had been evicted and relocated to Westville.

However, when customers went there that shop looked abandoned, police said.

One customer from Newton County unable to get his vehicle back reported it stolen.

According to court documents, LaPorte County Police following a month long investigation recovered customer vehicles from both shops.

Some were in various stages of repair.