Copper thief gets jail, probation
The sentence includes one year in jail for the worker's resale of 31 miles of stolen wire
A 35-year-old Honolulu man who prosecutors said stole 31 miles of copper wire from his former employer was given a year in jail yesterday as one condition of being sentenced to five years' probation.
Shane Boyle pleaded no contest in April to first-degree theft from Graybar Electric Co., a major supplier of copper wire to commercial building projects.
As the company's warehouse manager, he resold the copper wire valued at $235,000 to recyclers for $93,000, which he kept.
Prosecutors and Graybar officials called the sentence a "travesty" and "atrocity."
"The company lost almost a quarter-million dollars, people lost money, lives were affected and somebody lost their job, and this defendant walks out with probation," said Deputy Prosecutor Chris Van Marter. "That's not reasonable, it's not fair and it's not appropriate, given the conduct."
Defense attorney David Hayakawa lauded the court's decision, noting that Boyle's actions were very serious and that the punishment was fitting. "Mr. Boyle took responsibility in this case, and that's why he's going to have to serve a full year in jail."
The state had argued against probation, saying the seriousness and enormity of the offense warranted 10 years' imprisonment as a deterrent to others.
"This was not a one-time, isolated event, " Van Marter said.
On more than 100 occasions over an 18-month period, Boyle instructed truck drivers to deliver copper wire to the recyclers, and kept all but $2,000 of the money for himself, Van Marter said.
Boyle gave a brief statement of apology to the court, saying prison would hamper his ability to make restitution.
Circuit Judge Virginia Crandall agreed with the state that the offense was serious, and denied Boyle's request for a deferral. She also ordered him to repay the $235,000 that it cost the company to purchase the copper.
Dave Pysher, former branch manager at Graybar, who had worked for the company for 31 years, said he had been forced to retire because the thefts occurred under his watch. He said the company had trusted Boyle and that the theft was the second-largest loss in its history.
"This theft affected so many lives, not just mine," he said, noting that the company is no longer the same as it was two years ago and had fallen on hard times and severely cut back the number of its employees.
Richard Hinton, current branch manager, said the theft cost the company the trust and faith of customers, who went to a competitor.
The sentence of probation sends a message to those stealing copper gutters, copper faucets and copper wiring -- less than the 52 tons Boyle stole -- that they can expect probation, Van Marter said.