Reno Burglar Sentenced As Career Criminal

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A Reno man with a history of theft convictions has been sentenced as a career criminal to nine life prison terms.

Washoe District Judge Steven Elliott handed down the sentence Thursday, calling Ferrill Volpicelli a "poster child for habitual criminality."

Elliott ordered seven of the life terms to run concurrently and two consecutively. Volpicelli, 48, will be eligible for parole after serving 20 years. But that eligibility would come only after he has completed his sentences on other felony charges.

A jury in November convicted Volpicelli of eight counts of burglary for switching bar codes from lower-priced items, often electronics, to more expensive goods.

He also was found guilty of making counterfeit pricing labels.

Authorities said Volpicelli would place a fake labels on goods to purchase them at a reduced cost. He'd then remove the phony label and return the item for a refund at the original, higher price.

Detectives said he was making $50,000 to $93,000 a year from the scam.

Defense lawyer Bradley Van Ry conceded Volpicelli has a "storied history," but told the judge much of his criminal behavior resulted from his recently diagnosed clinical depression.

Volpicelli's life and attitude have turned around since he began taking Prozac, Van Ry said.

"His mind is clear," he said. "He is capable of dealing with his life. He is an intelligent and articulate person."

Before sentencing, Volpicelli told the judge he had been on a downward spiral for the last dozen years, but is reversing that cycle with help.

He asked the judge for leniency.

"I would just like to see light," he said.

But Deputy District Attorney Tammy Riggs said he doesn't deserve that.

"He is unable to function according to the rules of this society," Riggs said. "With this scam, he has become a one-man economic drag on this community."