Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, May 29 2014 at 4:13 PM, Updated: Thu, May 29 2014 at 9:50 PM
Klamath Falls, Ore. -- A man accused of heading a group that stole metal from farms in Klamath County is headed to prison for over 9 years.
Terri Claridge cried as her boyfriend Marty Holloway was sentenced on racketeering charges.
"I don't run around stealing for a living, your honor." Stated Holloway at sentencing. "I've turned metal in for 7 years, I've never had one piece of metal turned in stolen."
"He did not do this." Asserted Terri Claridge. "He is guilty of one thing - and that is knowing the people that did do it."
Klamath County District Attorney Rob Patridge disagrees, and says Holloway was the ringleader of a group that stole over 100 thousand dollars worth of metal 4 years ago.
"They stripped outbuildings, farm equipment, and sprinkler heads, and sold those to scrap yards in order to gain money."
Patridge adds that co-defendant Patrick Stout was sentenced last week to over 6 years in prison for his role in the crimes.
"They planned together to do this, they planned together to split up the money, so it was criminal racketeering, and it was a criminal enterprise."
A jury found Holloway 'guilty' after a 2-day trial but Terri Claridge maintains that her boyfriend is innocent.
"I'm afraid for my children, and I'm afraid for people in the community. If the court system can find him guilty, they can find anyone guilty of anything they want."
Defense attorneys say they intend to file an appeal.
Metal theft in Oregon skyrocketed when copper prices jumped from 60 cents a pound to over 3 dollars a pound.
Police say laws preventing 'same day, cash buys' have helped to reduce those thefts.
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KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.