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Dec 21, 2012 8:12 PM by Alyse Rzemek

Man gets prison for car thefts at funerals and church

GREELEY, Colo. (AP) - A man suspected of leading a ring of thieves who broke into cars at funerals, churches, schools and other places in Weld County has been sentenced to 36 years in prison.

The district attorney says 31-year-old Ernesto Castanuela Jr. was sentenced Friday in Weld County District Court.

Castanuela was convicted in October of automobile theft, serial theft and criminal mischief. The judge also ruled he is a habitual criminal.

Prosecutors say the habitual criminal designation required a sentence of four times the maximum for the crimes he was convicted of.

Authorities say the ring stole wallets, purses and electronics. Some were recovered.

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