6 months in prison for copper theft

The second man accused in the theft of an estimated $14,000 in copper piping from Eramet last year was sentenced Thursday to serve six months in prison.

Richard L. Nolan, 39, of Parkersburg was sentenced to two concurrent six-month terms in prison after pleading guilty on Jan. 31 to a fourth-degree felony count of grand theft and a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering. Since the terms are to be served concurrently, Nolan will be serving a maximum sentence of six months, not a year. He was given credit for three days toward his sentence for the days he served leading up to his sentencing.

Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randy Burnworth told Nolan he believe the crime was worthy of prison time.

“You have an extensive prior record and will be going to prison for this crime,” said Burnworth. “When or if you ever do return to this community, I hope you don’t find yourself in this courtroom again.”

Nolan made no statement, and uttered only a few “yes, sir” and “no, sir” answers during the sentencing.

The maximum sentence he could have received given his previous record was 30 months, according to Jim Schneider, Washington County prosecutor.

Nolan had several convictions on his record including a charge of tampering with an unattended vehicle. He was convicted of that crime and served 30 days in the Wood

County Jail.

Schneider said the six-month sentence seemed a bit light for the crime, adding that it very easily could have been more.

“Since Judge Burnworth only gave him six months I would be very surprised if he even considered the idea of allowing Nolan out early,” he said. “I expect him to serve the full sentence in prison.”

Part of the reason for the reduced sentence was Nolan’s admission of guilt, according to Schneider.

“This was a negotiated plea by my office. Due to his cooperation, we actually dropped a charge for tampering with evidence,” he said. “The only way he didn’t cooperate was that he insisted that he acted alone, which we knew wasn’t true.”

The two other men involved with Nolan and the theft of the copper piping were John L. Wyatt, 59, of Belpre and Jonathan P. Stringer, 31, of Parkersburg.

Wyatt pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony charge and was sentenced on Wednesday to 31 days in the Washington County Jail. Wyatt was out of state when the theft occurred, but the stolen property was found at his residence.

Stringer pleaded guilty to a fourth-degree felony count of receiving stolen property on Feb. 22 and is scheduled to be sentenced at 8 a.m. April 11.

“Stringer should get more than Wyatt received because he has a prior record,” said Schneider. “Wyatt received a very light sentence because he had no prior record before this incident.”