Vargo plea agreement continued in rape case

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Stephen L. Vargo Jr. had his plea agreement hearing rescheduled for June 24 this week to allow attorneys more time for evidence-sharing in the case of alleged kidnapping and rape. A new trial date will be set if no agreement is reached.

Vargo, 58, is accused of committing those acts against a 5-year-old child in Martins Ferry in 1997 and is currently serving time for an similar crime. He has been behind bars in federal prison since 2000 with 10 more years remaining on his sentence.

In the new case, he is accused of one count of rape of a child younger than 13 and one count of kidnapping a child younger than 13 for the purpose to engage in sexual activity, which allegedly occurred Sept. 20, 1997. Both are felonies of the first degree, each carrying a sentence of 10 years.

According to law enforcement, Martins Ferry police were dispatched to a Broadway Street residence in September 1997 and talked to the girl’s parents. The parents said the child had been playing outside when a man came up to her, offered her something and, when she followed, took her behind a house and raped her.

According to the Belmont County Prosecutor’s Office, DNA evidence collected at the crime scene recently implicated Vargo. He appeared in court Monday for a status conference before Belmont County Common Pleas Judge John Vavra.

In other matters before Vavra, Michael James Dugan, 26, of 309 W. South St., Barnesville pleaded guilty to attempted theft, a felony of the fifth degree occurring Jan. 30. His sentencing was set for June 17. A pre-sentence investigation and Eastern Ohio Correction Center evaluation were ordered.

Joseph Edward Jendrusik Jr., 67, of 66279 Harlan Acres Road, Belmont was sentenced to two years in prison for driving under the influence, a felony of the fourth degree occurring Jan. 30. His driver’s license was suspended for life.

Vavra noted that Jendrusik’s prior record includes multiple counts of driving under the influence.

“A passerby saw his car on County Road 100, stopped in the middle of the road, 4:40 p.m.,” Vavra said, adding that Jendrusik was seen lying on the ground beside his car. Vavra said while the passerby called the Ohio State Highway Patrol, Jendrusik got back into the car and drove onto U.S. 40.

“Luckily the trooper was nearby. He was able to chase him down. He was going 68 (mph) in a 55 (mph area) on (U.S.) 40. School buses were out that time of day,” Vavra said.

Ashley C. Williams, 35, of 225 S. Marietta St., St. Clairsville was sentenced to three years for possession of weapons under disability and two counts of possession of drugs, all felonies of the fifth degree occurring Jan. 26.

Amber Kay Green, 30, of 205 Fifth Ave., Yorkville pleaded guilty to two counts of aggravated possession of drugs, felonies of the third and fifth degrees occurring Dec. 5. Her sentencing was set for May 28. A pre-sentence investigation, EOCC evaluation and victim impact study were ordered.