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NU locker vandals plead not guilty in court

Liz Kellar
Staff Writer

The three men charged in a vandalism spree that caused $20,000 in damage to lockers at Nevada Union High School were in court Thursday and pleaded not guilty.

The suspects’ vandalism in May left lockers and hallways throughout the school in disarray, with the total damage estimated at $20,000. The thieves helped themselves to electronic items and clothing, including athletic shoes, iPods and graphing calculators.

A review of the video surveillance footage depicted three men methodically checking stuff from the lockers and tossing items they didn’t want. After the sheriff’s office released stills from the surveillance videos to local media outlets, it didn’t take long for tips to come flooding in.

One of the men was identified as Gayl Lawrence Lee, 30, and Nevada County Sheriff’s deputies arresting Lee reportedly found a BMX bike that was in the footage of the vandalism, and a number of stolen items. The two remaining suspects were identified as Brad Lee Pinneo, 35, and Jessy Watkins, 27.

All three men have been charged with second-degree burglary, vandalism, grand theft, and possessing stolen property, and pleaded not guilty to the charges in Nevada County Superior Court Thursday.

Lee’s attorney, Greg Klein, said his client had been offered a plea agreement in return for a three-year sentence, and wanted to discuss the possibility of a “split sentence” so that he could serve his time in county jail. Pinneo reportedly received a similar offer, while Watkins has been offered probation.

Pinneo’s attorney, Jody Schutz, told Judge Candace Heidelberger he is hoping to enter a residential treatment program.

Heidelberger indicated sentencing would be at the discretion of the sentencing judge. A felony conference was set for Aug. 14, and a preliminary hearing into the evidence was scheduled for Sept. 4.

In other court news:

— A woman arrested in April after Grass Valley police stopped her stolen truck and found a number of checks, credit cards and financial information belonging to as many as 14 victims was sentenced to 180 days in jail.

Erin Michelle Furlow, 28, of Concord, and Richard Frank Sales, 28, of Auburn, were arrested after a search of the truck reportedly uncovered drug paraphernalia, a small amount of prescription medications — not narcotics — in someone else’s name and a small amount of marijuana.

Officers reportedly also located evidence pointing to a burglary of a church off West Hacienda Drive.

Furlow reportedly was in the process of opening accounts in other people’s names using her Kindle device.

Furlow was charged with vehicle theft, possession of stolen property and drug paraphernalia, identity theft and possession of marijuana.

She pleaded no contest to vehicle theft and identity theft, and was sentenced to 180 days and three years supervised probation.

Sales failed to appear for court in May.

— A Penn Valley man arrested after an investigation into child pornography was sentenced July 28 to 16 months in jail.

Ryan Leigh Shuart, 33, has been charged with exhibiting a minor in pornography and possession of matter depicting a minor engaging in sexual conduct.

Shuart’s arrest came after Sutter County authorities initially began investigating a case in which child pornography was being distributed via an Internet Protocol address in Yuba County, which led to an address in Nevada County.

Shuart pleaded no contest to one count of being in possession of pornography depicting minors; he must register as a sex offender.

To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email lkellar@theunion.com or call 530-477-4229.


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