SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Aurora resident Ronald Neal Willis has been sentenced to four years in prison for the theft of multiple catalytic converters.

Willis, 47, entered an Alford plea and was sentenced as a prior and persistent offender to four years in prison for each of five counts of stealing. Circuit Judge Kaiti Greenwade on Thursday (7/28/23) ruled the sentences are to be served concurrently. An Alford plea means he did not admit guilt but acknowledged prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him.

According to court documents, sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the Aurora Walmart on July 1, 2021, and found a catalytic converter, which was later determined to be stolen, in the hands of Ronald Willis.

Greene County Prosecutor Dan Patterson said officers also responded on July 15, 2021, to Sawyer Road in Republic for a report of a past theft of catalytic converters.

Republic Police Department detectives were later able to determine that the defendant had stolen those converters the night before, Patterson said.