The case of Vernon Nye, the man charged with the burglary of the Joseph Little Store in December 2001, was finally resolved last week when he pleaded guilty in Wallowa County Circuit Court to second-degree burglary and first-degree theft. Nye was sentenced to a 13-month prison term, with two years of post-prison supervision ordered.
Nye is currently incarcerated in a Washington prison, and was shuttled from Shelton, Wash., to appear in court last Wednesday.
An estimated $4,600 worth of damages and stolen goods , including beer, cigarettes and candy, were reported in connection with the Little Store crime, which took place the night of Dec. 9, 2001. Much of the merchandise was recovered and Nye, then 24, was subsequently arrested by the Wallowa County Sheriff's Office and charged with burglary, theft and criminal mischief in connection with the case.
After a number of delays, Nye had been scheduled to go on trial for the Little Store burglary last fall, but failed to show up for his trial and a warrant was issued for his arrest.
According to Wallowa County District Attorney Dan Ousley, Nye had been arrested in the Vancouver, Wash., area on another crime and was already back in jail, unbeknownst to Wallowa County authorities. Ousley said Nye's prison term at the Washington Correctional Center will be served near the end of summer. At that time Nye will be turned over to the Oregon Department of Corrections to serve his 13 month prison term in Oregon.
Nye, a felon who had already been convicted of burglary, robbery and theft prior to the Little Store break-in, is reportedly in prison in Washington for stealing a car.
"It's been so long now, we've gone on with business. But I'm pleased with the sentence, and am glad it's over," said Little Store owner Doug Fowler. He said the Little Store continues to pay for Nye's crime in that their insurance company refused to renew its policy because of the robbery, and the business was forced to buy high risk insurance, with the premium increasing from $600 to $1,300 per year.
"As far as Nye is concerned, I feel sorry for his next town and next victim when he gets out of prison," said Fowler.