Stealing and reselling wire from federal property at the Togus veterans hospital cost a Richmond veteran six months in federal prison.

Derek Conrad Less, 26, pleaded guilty previously to three counts of theft of government property between July 9 and Aug. 16, 2012, at the VA Maine Healthcare Systems-Togus. An additional four counts of theft were dismissed.

On Thursday morning, in U.S. District Court in Bangor, Less was sentenced to the time he has been held in custody, and placed on supervised release for three years. Less also was ordered to pay $2,590.30 restitution.

His attorney in the federal proceedings, James S. Nixon, said Thursday that Less served in the military in Iraq. At Thursday’s hearing, “He apologized for the conduct that led to this incident,” Nixon said. He didn’t specify what branch of the service he worked in.

According to the prosecution’s version of events by Assistant U.S. Attorney James Moore, Less stole 409 pounds of “copper wire and plumbing fittings, property of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs” and then sold them to Clarks Cars & Parts on three separate dates that summer.

Two people working at Togus had reported seeing Less take the wire. On Aug. 16, 2012, two Togus police officers saw a spool used to wrap wire in a vehicle driven by Less, and when they asked to search the car, “Mr. Less fled VA grounds at a high rate of speed,” Moore wrote.

“Defendant Less confessed that he remembered stealing copper on three or four occasions and said drug addiction was the reason that he stole the VA’s metal.”

Less formerly worked at Togus.

Less will return to Kennebec County Superior Court, where he faces charges of burglary, theft by unauthorized taking and theft by deception, which allegedly occurred June 1-17, 2013, in Augusta. He also faces a separate charge of theft by receiving stolen property.

The indictment says Less broke into an Augusta home and took the owner’s jewelry, checkbook and lamps valued at more than $1,000. It also says he took more than $1,000 worth of jewelry from Gabriel’s Jewelry in Augusta that month.

Less was arrested on Nov. 19 after he failed to appear for a hearing in federal court. He has been in custody since then.

 

Betty Adams — 621-5631

badams@centralmaine.comTwitter: @betadams