When William D. Hipp bought a used lawn tractor last year with a bad check, he probably didn't expect to buy 10 years in the slammer.
After all, Hipp, of the 3000 block of Lineboro Drive in Manchester, had been charged with passing bad checks at least 30 times since 1971 and had served little jail time.
But yesterday, Circuit Judge Raymond E. Beck Sr. sentenced the 45-year-old to 10 years in state prison. Actually, Hipp will serve a maximum of five years behind bars, because Judge Beck suspended five years of the sentence. But Hipp will be on probation for five years after his release from custody.
Acting as his own attorney yesterday, Hipp had argued that he was "emotionally disturbed" and that is why he passed the check.
Assistant State's Attorney Eileen McInerney doubted that argument, although she was surprised at the length of the sentence.
"You usually don't see sentences like that for bad checks," she said in a brief interview after the judge issued his decision. "But this guy has got five pages of bad checks on his record." She also said he is wanted on more than 50 bad-check charges in southern Pennsylvania.
According to charging documents, Hipp purchased the riding lawn mower April 8 of last year from Finch Services Inc. of Westminster. He wrote a $795 personal check, which was returned to Finch because of "insufficient funds." Finch, the documents show, waited until Feb. 25 to file criminal charges against Hipp. He was convicted Sept. 8 of a single bad check felony.