Michael G. Johnson, the man once thought to be the owner of a Van Wert restaurant, pleaded guilty to passing bad checks in the Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas this week. (Submitted photo)
Michael G. Johnson, the man once thought to be the owner of a Van Wert restaurant, pleaded guilty to passing bad checks in the Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas this week. (Submitted photo)


VAN WERT — The man who was once thought to be the owner of a Van Wert restaurant pleaded guilty this week in Van Wert County Court of Common Pleas to passing bad checks.

Michael Gregory Johnson, 55, Van Wert entered the guilty plea in exchange for the dismissal of six other charges. All charges were felonies of the fifth degree. Of the six dropped charges, two were theft and four were forgery.

Johnson was originally arrested in October 2013 on charges of felony theft and misdemeanor bigamy. The bigamy charge was not read at Johnson’s November arraignment or at Tuesday’s change of plea hearing.

Retired Judge Roger Wilson of Champaign County accepted the plea and set a sentencing date of March 19. Johnson could receive a maximum 12-month sentence on the charge. Reportedly, the case against Johnson centered around his claim of ownership of the Black Swamp Bistro in downtown Van Wert.



On Thursday, three persons appeared before Judge Charles D. Steele in Common Pleas Court. Joshua Cole, 25, Wren, was given prison sentences totaling six years on two counts of third-degree felony burglary and one count of fifth-degree felony breaking and entering. Steele sentenced Cole to 30 months in prison for each of the burglary counts and 12 months for breaking and entering and ordered that the sentences be served consecutively. Cole must also pay restitution of nearly $1,700 to be split between the two victims.

Chad Caldwell, 36, Van Wert, admitted to violating the terms of his probation by failing to report for probation. Caldwell was given an additional 30 days in jail and was re-sentenced to community control under his original conditions. He received credit for five days served. A 180-day jail term and a $1,000 fine were deferred pending the successful completion of community control.

William L Smith, 37, Delphos, admitted to a probation violation by refusing treatment at the WORTH Center. His case was continued for sentencing at a later date.