Guilty plea in scrap metal theft scheme

A Lower Salem man who broke onto a property near his home and stole scrap metal pleaded guilty Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court.

Derek J. Waterman, 20, of 50 Warner Second St., was part of a duo accused of using a hacksaw to cut the lock off a fence surrounding a Salem Township property on Sept. 17.

Waterman and 25-year-old Steven L. O’Brien, of 343 Main St., Lower Salem, reportedly took several scrap items belonging to Dean Wolfert, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

“He and the other subject broke a lock…with the purpose to commit a theft offense,” said Schneider.

Waterman and O’Brien were reportedly later seen trying to sell some of the stolen items at a scrap yard in Guernsey County, he added.

Both men were indicted on a fifth-degree felony count of theft and a fifth-degree felony count of breaking and entering. The hacksaw was found in one of the defendant’s vehicles upon their initial arrest. The use of the tool resulted in an additional fifth-degree felony indictment for possession of criminal tools.

Waterman pleaded guilty Monday to the fifth-degree felony breaking and entering charge, and in exchange the other two fifth-degree felonies were dropped.

The state also agreed to recommend three years of community control and a 30-day stay in the Washington County Jail at sentencing, said Schneider. Only the restitution for the damaged lock will be part of the criminal restitution proceedings, he added.

“Restitution for the items sold is going to be determined at a later civil hearing,” he said.

Waterman and O’Brien will be held jointly responsible for any restitution ordered through the criminal proceedings, said Schneider.

However, O’Brien has yet to be found.

When going over possible penalties for the crime, Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane questioned whether or not the crime was a result of substance abuse.

“Not that I know of,” answered Waterman’s attorney Joe Brockwell.

When Lane asked Waterman if he had a drug or alcohol problem, Waterman responded that he does not.

Waterman faces a maximum one year in prison on the charge and is scheduled to be sentenced June 11 at 8 a.m.