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6 years in heroin, stolen goods exchange

The man the Sheriff’s Office is calling the ringleader of a number of East County burglaries has been sentenced in an apparent arrangment to sell stolen goods for heroin.

Gerald Hiler, 41, was sentenced to six years in prison for second-degree possession of stolen property. Hiler was considered a transient from the Elma area. Chief Criminal Deputy Steve Shumate says that Hiler led a group of men and women, who broke into homes — sometimes kicking down doors — and stealing various items. He was part of a group of seven men and four women who were charged in various theft and burglary charges connected to a string of crimes in East County.

At Hiler’s home, deputies found a large television, a bag of jewelry and other items, along with a tool taken in a recent burglary with the victim’s name inscribed on it.

The charge was reduced from first-degree trafficking in stolen property. A witness told deputies Hiler traded Timothy L. Rasmussen, 58, jewelry in exchange for half an ounce of heroin.

Since the arrests, Deputy Prosecutor Jason Walker said, evidence has been found going back years that “stolen property … would go in and heroin would come back out” at the house where Rasmussen was arrested.

Hiler said he has successfully undergone drug treatment before and plans to return to Wyoming after serving his sentence, where he did electrical work before relapsing.

Rasmussen and Damien W. Rasmussen, 22, were arrested and charged with first-degree rafficking in stolen property and possession of a controlled substance. Both are held in Grays Harbor County Jail with $20,000 bail.