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Restitution ordered by Judge Cosgrove

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Three men were sentenced to state prison yesterday after admitting in court that they broke into houses that were under renovation, stole copper piping and sold it at scrap metal yards.

Donald P. Jaskulka, 27, of 78 North Sturbridge Road, Charlton, and Joseph Demarco, 26, of 68 Milk St., Westboro, were each sentenced to 2 to 2-1/2 years imprisonment with 5 years of probation to follow after pleading guilty in Worcester Superior Court to multiple counts of breaking and entering and larceny from a building.

Mr. Jaskulka pleaded guilty to 21 counts of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and 20 counts of larceny from a building. Mr. Demarco pleaded guilty to 18 counts of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and 16 counts of larceny from a building.

Michael Allaire, 37, of 34 Myrtle St., was sentenced to 1 to 2 years in state prison with 3 years of probation to follow after pleading guilty to three counts each of breaking and entering in the daytime with intent to commit a felony and larceny from a building.

As conditions of probation, Judge Robert C. Cosgrove ordered all three men to stay away from the victims and their properties, to undergo drug and alcohol evaluations and any related treatment recommended by the Probation Department, and to maintain or seek employment to pay restitution in an amount to be determined.

Police said the men sometimes ripped through floors and ceilings to remove the copper piping. Assistant District Attorney Timothy M. Farrell estimated that the restitution could be in excess of $50,000.

One of the property owners, George Valeri, told the judge he expected to have to pay $10,000 out-of-pocket to replace the copper stolen from his building.

The breaks and thefts occurred from Nov. 27 through about March 1. Mr. Demarco was arrested Feb. 23 after a home on Bluff Street was broken into and the owner found Mr. Demarco inside breaking up copper piping that had been removed, according to Mr. Farrell.

A police investigation led to the arrests of Mr. Jaskulka and Mr. Allaire. Mr. Farrell said all three men cooperated with investigators, at one point driving around with officers and pointing out buildings they had broken into.

Authorities say such crimes have been on the increase in recent years, as scrap metal prices have risen to record levels. Copper was selling for $4 a pound earlier this year, compared with less than $1 a pound four years ago.

Mr. Farrell recommended that all three men be sentenced to 2-1/2 to 3 years in prison with 7 years of probation to follow. The prosecutor proposed the conditions of probation that were imposed by Judge Cosgrove, including an order of restitution.

Another victim, Susan Rinaldi, said she was out "thousands and thousands of dollars" because of the theft from her property.

Another victim said in a statement read by Mr. Farrell that he spent November through February without heat because all the pipes had been stolen from his building.

While Mr. Jaskulka's lawyer, Timothy W, Murphy, said his client was under the impression all of the houses he broke into were under foreclosure and bank-owned, Mr. Farrell said that was not the case and most were privately owned.

Mr. Murphy and Mr. Demarco's lawyer, Christopher P. LoConto, both said their clients grew dependent on prescribed painkillers after motor vehicle accidents, then turned to heroin as a cheaper alternative and became addicted to that drug.

Mr. Murphy, Mr. LoConto and Mr. Allaire's lawyer, Tom G. Vukmirovits, asked that their clients be sentenced to the House of Correction and spared state prison terms.
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