December 21, 2014

Elyria
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Former city worker pleads no contest to thefts from Elyria

Nicholas Cerreto

Nicholas Cerreto

ELYRIA — The former city worker accused of stealing siren control systems that were supposed to be installed on Elyria police vehicles pleaded no contest Monday to charges of theft and theft in office.

The city discovered the missing equipment in June 2013, after Nicholas Cerreto, 34, already had resigned from his job as a communications technician.

Elyria police reported that other technicians noticed the components missing when they went to replace a broken siren system on a police car. The resulting investigation determined that Cerreto had been selling stolen city property on the Internet.

The Whelon Cencom Sapphire Siren Systems, valued at $625 each, were taken from a locked storage area in the Elyria maintenance garage. Cerreto was accused of stealing 30 systems.

A search of Cerreto’s LaGrange home turned up additional stolen equipment, according to police.

Defense attorney Mike Wilson said there was no sentencing agreement, and he expects prosecutors to push for a prison sentence in the case. But he said he believes Cerreto would be a good candidate for probation.

He also said there remains some dispute over the value of the city property Cerreto stole.

Wilson said authorities believe his client stole as much as $50,000 worth of property, but they were only able to prove he stole around $20,000 worth of items.

He said the exact amount of restitution still needs to be determined, although if the city was compensated by its insurance company, Cerreto will only be responsible for paying the deductible.

Cerreto had left his city job in May 2013 for a job with WEOL, a local AM radio station owned and operated by the same parent company as The Chronicle-Telegram.

He was fired from that job when the theft allegations against him surfaced.

Contact Brad Dicken at 329-7147 or bdicken@chroniclet.com. Follow him on Twitter @BradDickenCT.