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      Final copper theft ring member pleads guilty

      The final member of a copper theft ring indicted last year pleaded guilty to 10 counts of breaking and entering on April 3.

      Michael Ward was sentenced to eight years in prison for his involvement with copper thefts in Green Springs, Fremont, Clyde, Bellevue, Perkin Township and Castalia. The theft ring operated between March and December of 2010.

      Six others involved in these series of crimes were convicted on charges ranging from breaking and entering to racketeer influenced and corrupt organizations (RICO).

      "Our office was approached in December 2010 by Chief Horne from Green Springs, Detective Roach from Clyde Police Department and other law enforcement officers about taking all of these cases in a single county to streamline prosecution of the offenders," Prosecuting Attorney Derek DeVine said. "We were pleased to take these cases because of the depth of the crimes involved and the superior investigations."

      Devine also said many of the offenders were using proceeds from the crimes to fund drug addictions.