JOPLIN, Mo. —
A Jasper County judge granted probation Monday to two defendants convicted of stealing copper wire on the streets of Joplin in the aftermath of the tornado in May 2011.
Co-defendants Nycoa K. Kracht, 32, of Laurel, Ind., and Timothy M. Silveria, 45, of Joplin, pleaded guilty May 20 in Jasper County Circuit Court to a charge of stealing wire from a public utility.
Circuit Judge David Dally assessed Kracht and Silveria seven years in prison at sentencing hearings Monday, but suspended execution of the sentences and placed them both on supervised probation for five years.
Kracht, Silveria and Dennis B. Ray, 34, of Joplin, were arrested May 25, 2011, in the 100 block of East 22nd Street with a load of copper wire in the bed of a truck bearing a sticker and logo of a food distribution company.
The wire had been cut from nearby Empire District Electric Co. utility poles in the portion of the city ravaged by the tornado. A police officer testified in July 2011 that Silveria was outside the truck with a pair of bolt cutters and Ray was loading wire into the truck when the officer pulled up.
A detective who came to the scene to assist the officer told the court that Silveria initially claimed to have obtained permission from another police officer to gather wire from debris that was pushed to the curb along the streets in the tornado zone. Kracht, who was sitting inside the truck, denied that they were stealing wire and told the detective that they intended to donate whatever money they might get for the copper to tornado victims.
During booking procedures at the city jail, Ray’s cellphone was obtained by investigators, and a text message was discovered on it that read: “I’m going scrappin’ tom and getting me a bus ticket to Ten.”
DENNIS RAY, a co-defendant of Timothy Silveria and Nycoa Kracht, also pleaded guilty to stealing wire from a public utility and was sentenced in December to three years in prison, with credit for time served in jail.