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Falls man takes plea deal in metal theft

LOCKPORT – A Niagara Falls man admitted entering the house next-door to his to steal scrap metal, and agreed to pay $2,000 in future restitution during an appearance Monday in Niagara County Court.

Joseph L. Ebert, 43, of Ashland Avenue, admitted to second-degree criminal trespass and could be sentenced to as long as a year in jail when he returns before County Judge Matthew J. Murphy III Oct. 6.

The thefts occurred between Aug. 20 and Nov. 9, 2012. Ebert was connected to the case by a fingerprint found on a light bulb that Assistant District Attorney Kevin D. Canali said was removed from a ceiling fan to allow for the theft of the fan’s electric motor.

There was a dispute over restitution. Two weeks ago, Canali demanded $4,825, but Ebert’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender David E. Blackley, said his client couldn’t pay it because his only income is Social Security disability. Canali consented to a lower figure for Ebert, who said in court he had been diagnosed as “retarded” and suffers from bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and a sleep disorder.