COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A Columbus man was sentenced Wednesday for his role in one of the largest central Ohio catalytic converter theft rings.

Tommy Cox Jr., 42, pleaded guilty last month to 15 counts in connection to the theft ring and based on the plea agreement, and will spend at least eight years in prison, with a maximum sentence of 12 years.

According to the state’s sentencing memorandum, Cox pleaded guilty to:

  • two counts of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony
  • one count of possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony
  • one count of receiving stolen property, a fourth-degree felony
  • two counts of receiving stolen property, both fifth-degree felonies
  • one count of money laundering, a third-degree felony
  • two counts of weapons under disability, both third-degree felonies
  • one violation of metal scrapping laws, a fifth-degree felony
  • one count of possessing criminal tools, a fifth-degree felony
  • one count of tampering with evidence, a third-degree felony
  • one count of theft, a fourth-degree felony
  • one count of theft, a fifth-degree felony
  • one count of grand theft of a motor vehicle, a fourth-degree felony

The combined maximum sentence for all those charges is 46 1/2 years, but the maximum sentence is reduced because of the plea agreement.

Cox and his co-defendant, 46-year-old Shannon Vance, allegedly formed a criminal organization known as TC’s Buy/Sell/Trade, the purpose of which was to get by Ohio law limiting one catalytic converter sale per person per day. Court documents state Cox and Vance received at least $431,580 in cash from catalytic converter sales between January 2021 and March 2022.

The investigation into Cox and Vance began in Groveport, where police reported more than $50,000 in catalytic converter thefts between July and September of 2021.

On Sept. 13, 2021, a search warrant was issued for the couple’s home, but using what court documents said was a sophisticated surveillance system, Cox was able to flee the house as SWAT officers approached. On March 4, 2022, another search warrant was served at the home, and while Cox once again ran from the area, SWAT officers were able to catch him due to a second perimeter set up around the home, according to court records.

In total, Groveport police estimated the theft ring is responsible for more than $1 million in damages.

Cox is scheduled to be sentenced in Franklin County Municipal Court.

Vance also pleaded guilty in February to one count of engaging in corrupt activity, a second-degree felony. Her sentencing is scheduled for March 22.

In addition to Cox and Vance, four others have been charged in connection with the theft ring: Anthony J. Coy-Cremeans, Johnathan D. DeBoard, Michael A. Butcher, and Carl W. Vance.