Columbiana man gets year for wire theft

LISBON – A man responsible for the theft of aluminum and copper electric transmission wire and equipment from the city of Columbiana last year was sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge Scott Washam to 12 months in prison on Thursday.

According to Assistant County Prosecutor John Gamble, Matthew P. Stouffer, 27, North Cross Street, Columbiana, stole more than 2,600 pounds of wire, which was estimated to cost $20,838 for the city to replace. Stouffer reportedly sold the specialty wire for little more than $2,000.

The prosecutor’s office had recommended a 14-month sentence for the theft charge, which came after a lengthy investigation by Detective Wade Boley of Columbiana. Stouffer reportedly admitted to climbing over the fence at the city’s yard on three occasions between March and April to steal pieces of wire, which he then sold for scrap.

This is not the first Common Pleas Court conviction for Stouffer involving notable thefts in the Columbiana area. He was convicted in November 2009 after taking the bronze statue from in front of the Columbiana Public Library and selling it for scrap in Youngstown. The statue was recovered and Judge C. Ashley Pike sentenced Stouffer to 13 months in prison in 2009. He was also ordered to make restitution to the library.

According to Gamble, Stouffer has been convicted of complicity to trafficking in drugs and permitting drug abuse for selling heroin from his Cross Street home in February 2006. He also has a conviction in Mahoning County from September 2008, when he was sentenced to 10 months in prison for possession of heroin.

Stouffer’s accomplice in the 2009 theft of the statue, Michael Nagel Jr., 29, Brenda Lane, Columbiana, was recently indicted on charges of theft and criminal damaging for allegedly taking 68 feet of copper wire from the Fitzpatrick Avenue sub-station in Columbiana. He is scheduled to be arraigned next week.