Man sentenced to 2 years in prison for theft from Webster

Daniel L. Bliss (right) addresses Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley as he sits next to his attorney, Meira Zucker, Wednesday afternoon.

A Fremont man who admitted he stole more than $300,000 in property belonging to Webster Industries over a 10-year period was sentenced to two years in prison Wednesday afternoon.

In May, Daniel L. Bliss, 49, had pleaded guilty to a charge of aggravated theft, a third-degree felony, during a hearing in Seneca County Common Pleas Court Judge Michael Kelbley’s courtroom.

The theft was a continuing course of conduct between 2008 and Oct. 31, and Bliss was an employee of Webster Industries at the time of the offense, court records state.

During Wednesday’s hearing, Kelbley sentenced him to two years in prison and ordered him to pay about $16,000 in restitution.

According to a search warrant filed in Seneca County Common Pleas Court, Tiffin Police Department had received a complaint Oct. 23 from Webster Industries, 325 Hall St., about a possible theft occurring at the business.

An employee told a police officer that Bliss appeared to be stealing items from the company and selling them on his personal eBay account, court records state.

Also, the employee said the items were an industrial electrical component that are expensive, they state.

Prior to sentencing, Bliss apologized and said Webster Industries, where he had a 20-year career, did not deserve the situation.

Bliss said he had been using drugs and went to multiple doctors at the same time, just to feel normal. He said he probably had the worst work history at the company.

“I used (Family and Medical Leave Act) as a reason not to go into work,” he said.

Bliss said three days had been the longest he ever had remained sober, and now he is going on his ninth month. He said he completed a recovery team, attended Firelands Counseling & Recovery Services and goes to support meetings, and the person he used to be and the person he is now are different people.

“I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” he said.

Bliss said he has found new employment and wishes he could have gotten help in a different way than he did.

“I got a lot of good support out there. … “I try to keep myself out of trouble,” he said.

Seneca County Prosecutor Derek DeVine said he found Bliss’ remorse statements to be genuine, applauded his nine-month period of sobriety and thought Bliss was on the right path to recovery.

The total theft calculated by Webster Industries was $338,510, and about $322,500 had been paid through an insurance claim. The thefts occurred over the course of 10 years, DeVine said.

“Clearly, the offender took advantage of his relationship with Webster to facilitate the offense,” he said.

DeVine said Webster Industries is a corporation and doesn’t have feelings. The people Bliss worked with have feelings, and he took advantage of their trust of a fellow employee, DeVine said.

“He hurt the people of that company,” he said.