The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 26, 2013

Copper burglar gets 2 to 5 years in jail

By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — A Milton man will spend 2 to 5 years in prison for copper thefts in Northumberland County and is waiting to hear how much time he will serve for similar thefts in Union County.

Dennis Dean Russell, 41, of Milton, was sentenced to 24 to 60 months in two separate cases Monday in Northumberland County Court, with the sentences to run concurrently, meaning he will spend 2 to 5 years in prison for the summertime break-ins in Milton.

Russell also was sentenced to 21 to 48 months for risking a catastrophe, also to run concurrent with his burglary sentences. He also will have to repay more than $9,000 in restitution, President Judge Robert Sacavage ruled.

In court Monday, Russell took responsibility for his actions.

“I feel bad for what I did,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking clearly. ... I have to make this right.”

Russell was charged in September with breaking into a home at 608 Lincoln St., Milton, in July. In October, he was charged with breaking into a home at 312 N. Front St., Milton, and causing severe water damage when he stole the copper pipes from the residence without turning off the water, according to court documents.

When officers arrived at the home, they found copper pipes in the basement had been cut away and the water had been running in the dwelling for one to two weeks, according to court documents.

The basement’s floor had fallen, and the wood on the upper floor had buckled, police said. The smell of mold and mildew was so overpowering the officers could not stay inside for long, according to court documents.

The motive for each break-in was copper, police said. Russell said he and an accomplice sold the copper to Staiman Recycling, Williamsport, and that he used the money to support his heroin habit, according to court documents.

Russell also is facing jail time in Union County, where he pleaded guilty to nine counts of burglary after being charged with breaking into homes at 137-139 S. Sixth St., 601-603 St. Catherine St. and 100, 111 and 116 S. Seventh St., all in Lewisburg. The homes primarily are rented to Bucknell University students.

According to court documents, Union County Court is preparing a presentence investigation report.