Verdi copper thief sentenced to prison |

Verdi copper thief sentenced to prison

RENO (AP) ” A five-time felon has been sentenced to at least two years in prison for selling copper wire from power lines that sparked a brush fire and power outage in Verdi last fall.

Richard Fimby, 49, pleaded guilty to obtaining money under false pretenses in connection with selling the stolen metals. He was sentenced Wednesday by Washoe District Judge Steven Kosach.

Authorities nationwide have seen an increase in the theft of copper wiring from power poles, construction sites and plumbing from vacant buildings.

Police say many thieves are methamphetamine users trying to get money to buy drugs.

Authorities said Fimby in September sold more than $700 worth of copper wiring that was stolen from two Sierra Pacific Power Co. poles near Verdi to a Reno recycling center. The crossing of wires caused a small brush fire and a power outage.

After Fimby sold the materials, the recycling center forwarded the information to police, who identified the metals and linked them to the theft.

Power company officials previously estimated the cost to replace and repair the power lines at $1 million.

Fimby also faces copper wire theft charges in Churchill County that occurred while he was free on bail awaiting sentencing in the Reno case, prosecutors said. He has four previous felony convictions.