Hilliard-area robber sentenced 18 to 36 years
A London, Ohio, man who pleaded guilty to 19 counts of robbery and one count of burglary will spend at least 18 years -- and as many as 36 years -- in prison.
Christopher P. Blaho, 26, could have been sentenced to as many as 160 years in prison after entering into a plea bargain reached Sept. 11.
Blaho had been indicted on 62 counts, which included multiple counts of kidnapping in connection with the forceful detainment of victims during the commission of a string of armed robberies in Columbus, Dublin, Grove City and Hilliard in January and February. The kidnapping charges were dismissed as part of the negotiated plea agreement, said Franklin County Assistant Prosecutor Jason Manning.
Attorney Joe Landusky represented Blaho at the sentencing Dec. 5 in the courtroom of Common Pleas Court Judge John F. Bender.
"I think it was a little heavy-handed," said Landusky, who did not dispute any of Blaho's crimes, but added that no one was injured and that Blaho used a replica gun in the commission of the robberies.
"There are people who commit murder that are sentenced to fewer years ... but after 18 years he will be eligible for early release," Landusky said.
Blaho was remorseful in the courtroom, Landusky said, and told victims of his crimes that he did not know how "devastating" his actions were until seeing their reaction at his sentencing.
Three of the victims in the string of robberies testified at the sentencing, including a Hilliard woman who told the court she was three months pregnant when Blaho pointed a gun at her Jan. 18 and took her purse.
Landusky said his client had been raised in a "good home" but began using drugs and committed the crimes to support a heroin addiction.
Blaho addressed his parents in the courtroom, Landusky said, stating he hoped he would be released from prison in their lifetimes to make some amends.
Columbus police arrested Blaho on Feb. 18. His last known address was Shoshone Drive in London.
Columbus police already had identified Blaho as a suspect and a Columbus police SWAT detail was observing Blaho the evening of Feb. 18 when he forcibly entered a residence on Schooner Court in Norwich Township, police said.
Police stopped Blaho and discovered property stolen from the Schooner Court residence in his vehicle.
Four agencies cooperated with Columbus police in the investigation: Hilliard police, Dublin police, Grove City police and the Franklin County Sheriff's Office.
The 19 robberies to which Blaho pleaded guilty occurred between Jan. 18 and Feb. 6. Seventeen of the robberies were at businesses, most of which were in the Hilliard area. He robbed the BP gas station at 925 Hilliard-Rome Road twice, and he robbed one individual, police said.
Blaho's robberies in chronological order were:
* Starliner Diner, 5240 Cemetery Road in Hilliard, Jan. 18.
* An individual victim, on Bayridge Drive in Columbus, Jan. 18.
* BP, 925 Hilliard-Rome Road in Columbus, Jan. 19 and Feb. 6.
* UDF, 1188 N. Wilson Road in Columbus, Jan. 22.
* Speedway, 4555 W. Broad St. in Prairie Township, Jan. 22.
* Little Caesar's Pizza, 5374 Sullivant Ave. in Columbus, Jan. 24.
* Flyer's Pizza, 5634 Hall Road in Columbus, Jan. 25.
* Subway, 3195 Hilliard-Rome Road in Hilliard, Jan. 25.
* Subway, 4490 Cemetery Road in Hilliard, Jan. 26.
* Speedway, 2567 Walcutt Road in Columbus, Jan. 28.
* BP, 1881 Stringtown Road in Grove City, Jan. 29.
* Don's Drive Thru, 2618 Hilliard-Rome Road in Columbus, Jan. 30.
* Circle K, 5499 Hall Road in Columbus, Jan. 31.
* Speedway, 799 N. Wilson Road in Columbus, Feb. 4.
* UDF, 7076 Muirfield Drive in Dublin, Feb. 5.
* CVS Pharmacy, 4961 Roberts Road in Columbus, Feb. 5.
* Quizno's Subs, 5360 Tuttle Crossing Blvd. in Colum-bus, Feb. 6.