Copper thieves plead guilty

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 14, 2008

Two men accused of cutting live telephone lines decided to skip a trip to the grand jury and pleaded guilty last week to the charges against them during appearances in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Jess Pritchard Jr., 31, of

1078 Township Road 268, Ironton, pleaded guilty on a bill of information to theft and disrupting public service. He was accused of stealing live SBC telephone lines in Perry Township, leaving customers in that area without service. Judge D. Scott Bowling sentenced him to 90 days in jail and four years community controlled sanctions under intensive supervised probation. Pritchard must also make $5,315.15 in restitution to SBC jointly and severally with two codefendants.

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One of those two co-defendants, Anthony Dalton, 228, of 106 Oakwood Drive, Coal Grove, pleaded guilty to one count each of theft, disrupting a public service and possession of criminal tools. Judge Charles Cooper sentenced him to nine months in prison and ordered him to pay the same amount of restitution, either jointly or severally with the others.

Cooper denied a request for a brief furlough.

Also last week, Jeremy McClellan, 21, of 1891 County Road 5, Kitts Hill, pleaded guilty to burglary and breaking and entering. Cooper sentenced him to four years in prison and ordered him to pay $330 in restitution. If he exhibits good behavior while he is in prison, he would be eligible for judicial release after two years. His attorney, Derick Fisher, said McClellan has spoken with military recruiters and they seem to be interested in him even after his release from prison. McClellan told Cooper he was remorseful for what he had done.

“I am truly, deeply sorry,” he said. “I hope you all will allow me one more chance so I can make something of myself. I have a wife and three kids.”

Cooper told McClellan what he had done was extremely dangerous

“There is hardly anything more fearsome that someone breaking into areas we live in,” Cooper said. “However, I am pleased to hear you may not have been doing drugs. You’re lucky not to have to face that problem. I believe enlistment in the military is a good move for your future and for the military.”