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Cuyahoga Falls -- Police on March 26 arrested a Tallmadge man who is accused of illegally obtaining electricity at a Cuyahoga Falls home, an issue which authorities discovered following a fire at the house last month.
Ralph Gironda, 57, is charged with one count of felony theft, a fifth-degree felony, and one count of tampering with a utility meter, a third-degree misdemeanor. At his arraignment last week in Stow Municipal Court, Gironda pleaded not guilty on the misdemeanor charge. Pleas are not entered on felonies in municipal court.
He is free on bail.
A preliminary hearing on the felony charge and a pretrial on the misdemeanor offense is scheduled for April 3 before Magistrate John W. Clark.
An investigation was launched on March 13 after the Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department responded to a Theiss Road house fire on Feb. 25, according to a news release from the Falls Police Department.
It was discovered that the fire stemmed from illegal electric wiring hooked up to bypass the electric meter at the house, the news release stated. An audit of electricity used at the residence showed that as much as $5,000 in electricity was allegedly stolen during the last several years, according to the news release. The police chief said the probe has determined Gironda is the property owner.
Fire Chief Paul Moledor said he does not know if Gironda was living there or renting out the home.
The fire on Feb. 25 caused $1,000 in damage, according to a Cuyahoga Falls Fire Department official.
Falls Fire Lt. Tim Mier said the fire was reported by a passerby at 11:23 a.m.
No one was at home at the time of the blaze, Mier said, and there were no injuries.