Tahoe man who stole $35,000 in coins gets 3-year prison term | RecordCourier.com

Tahoe man who stole $35,000 in coins gets 3-year prison term

Staff Reports

A 61-year-old Lake Tahoe man was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison, and ordered to pay $35,000 restitution for valuable coins and a .357-Magnum handgun he admitted taking from a stolen safe.

District Judge Tod Young told Paul Winberg he must serve a minimum of 14 months before he is eligible for parole.

He gave Winberg credit for 204 days in custody for the 6-year-old offense.

The victim, who was Winberg’s cousin by marriage at the time of the October 2007 crime, said Tuesday he’d been collecting the coins since he was 8.

“They were in part for my retirement and my children’s college. I felt violated at nearly every level,” the Gardnerville resident said.

At one point, he accused his son, which the victim said caused a major rift in the family.

Winberg sold the guns to a collector and had no idea of their value, the victim said.

“This wasn’t a crime he set out to commit,” said Kris Brown, Winberg’s attorney. “A former employee brought the safe to him. He opened it, recognized the value of the property, and took it for his own gain.

“At this point in his life, he’s older, has several serious health problems and wants to take responsibility for what he did. He is ready to get this resolved.”

■ A 47-year-old Gardnerville Ranchos man was sentenced Tuesday to a minimum of 12 months in Nevada state prison after he pleaded to felony drunk driving.

Eleuterio Rechy-Romero, speaking through an interpreter, asked District Judge Tod Young for another chance, even though the judge said prison was mandatory.

“When you speak of opportunity, you are aware I cannot suspend sentencing and place you on probation,” Young said.

“That’s fine,” the defendant said, but asked again for one more chance.

Rechy-Romero said he was the sole support of his family in Mexico.

Rechy-Romero’s attorney, Kris Brown, said she had explained to her client several times that probation was not an option.

“I want you to know I respect a man who wants to help his children,” Young said. “Keep that goal in your heart. You will always be their father. What happened today will pass. You have to make a choice between helping your children or being a drunk.”

“My decision is to help my children,” he answered.

Rechy-Romero was pulled over about 2 a.m. Jan. 29 on Highway 395 after a deputy observed erratic driving on Mission Street in Gardnerville.

Rechy-Romero continued to drive at 5 mph after deputies flashed lights and activated the patrol car’s air horn, avoiding a head-on collision.

The deputy said Rechy-Romero drove as though the deputies weren’t there.

One of the deputies yelled at the suspect in Spanish because he didn’t understand English.

His vehicle continued to roll until an officer reached through the window, put the Jeep in gear, and removed the keys.

Rechy-Romero failed all sobriety tests at the scene and was taken to Douglas County Jail on $20,000 bail, and a no-bail hold from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

His blood-alcohol content was .255, according to court records.

Rechy-Romero did not qualify for a diversion program because of the immigration hold.

He had two prior DUI convictions in July 2006 and December 2006.