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Man convicted of theft of $2K tool

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GREENFIELD — A jury convicted a New Castle man on a felony theft charge Tuesday after the man failed to return a $2,000 professional plumbing tool to a local rental store.

Michael W. White, 38, of New Castle, maintained his innocence from his arrest in August to the time the case went to trial this week, police said. Prosecutors filed the charge against White in September of last year, but White’s whereabouts were unknown at the time.

The case stems from White’s rental of a professional drain-cleaning tool called an electric eel from Rentals Inc. on West Main Street in June 2011.

White provided a photo ID and signed his name to a contract saying he would return the tool the following day, but he never did, and phone calls and certified letters went unanswered, police said.

White said someone must have stolen his ID, but investigators say the signature on the store’s contract was a match for White’s.

The two-day trial ended Tuesday afternoon. The jury deliberated for about an hour before delivering the guilty verdict, police said.

White, who has remained in jail since his arrest in August, will return to court in December for sentencing. Theft, a Class D felony, carries a penalty range of six months to three years and $10,000 in fines.

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