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Ohio man gets 12 years in copper theft

Jun. 26, 2013 @ 11:03 PM

IRONTON -- Thirty times Wednesday a Lawrence County man said the word "guilty" when asked his plea on the theft of phone lines containing copper, a move that left hundreds of rural residents without phone service.

Brian K. Bloomfield, 34, of Township Road 160, Pedro, was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Lawrence County Common Pleas Judge Charles "Chuck" Cooper. Bloomfield pleaded guilty to 16 counts of disrupting public service and 14 counts of tampering with evidence.

Mike Gleichauf, an assistant county prosecutor, said that on at least 16 occasions between Aug. 12, 2012, and Feb. 28, 2013, Bloomfield cut AT&T telephone lines to get the copper wire inside. The thefts were in Upper, Elizabeth, Decatur and Lawrence townships, Gleichauf said.

"Individuals lost their ability to use their phones," Gleichauf said. "Many of these individuals don't have cellphones. This selfish act of Mr. Bloomfield left these residents with no way to contact emergency services. They couldn't call for ambulances or sheriff's deputies."

The tampering charges stemmed from removing the outer coating of the phone wires to get to the copper, Gleichauf said. The utility company estimated damages at $48,508.76, he said.

"My client didn't understand the consequences of his actions," said Warren "Butch" Morford, a South Point lawyer appointed to defend Bloomfield. "When he did this, he was driven by economic necessity. It wasn't for drugs. It's what he turned to for survival."

"I'm sorry for what I've done," Bloomfield said.

Cooper sentenced him to three years in prison on four of the tampering charges and ordered the rest to be served concurrently. Bloomfield also was 17 months in prison on each of the disruption of public service charges. They also will run concurrently with the other sentence for a total of 12 years in prison.

Bloomfield also was ordered to pay restitution to AT&T and was ordered to pay court costs. He also was given credit for time already served in jail toward the prison sentence.

A co-defendant in the case, Randy L. DePriest Jr., 30, of County Road 41S, Pedro, is set to stand trial Aug. 22. He faces charges similar to those of Bloomfield.

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