Ashtabula County Man Sentenced for Priest Extortion

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An Ashtabula County man will spend the next seven years in prison for extorting more than $100,000 from a Jefferson Catholic priest.

Brian Gaster, 27, was handed down the sentence Friday by Ashtabula County Common Pleas Judge Alfred Mackey, who also ordered Gaster to pay restitution. Gaster previously pleaded guilty two counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity.

Gaster lied to the priest of St. Joseph Calasanctius Parish in Jefferson that he had a seriously ill child and that a family member was kidnapped and needed money for ransom. The priest, according to a statement by the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, gave Gaster $133,000 of his personal savings and parish money.

Gaster was originally indicted in January on the two corruption charges, as well as three counts burglary, theft, four counts of grand theft, petty theft and two counts of extortion.

The burglary and theft counts stemmed from authorities linking Gaster to a series of burglaries in Ashtabula County. Those 10 counts, however, were dismissed as part of the plea agreement.

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