A 35-year-old man suspected of committing multiple burglaries in Benton County, including a case in Philomath in which valuable musical instruments were stolen, was sentenced to 7-1/2 years in prison Tuesday by a Lane County judge.

Faisal Farid Al-ansari, of the Eugene-Springfield area, pled guilty to committing three burglaries in Lane County. Patricia Perlow, Lane County district attorney, told KEZI that Al-ansari was caught during a much larger crime investigation, which involved burglaries in at least two other counties.

On Wednesday, the Benton County District Attorney’s Office filed felony first-degree burglary charges against Al-ansari in connection with six burglaries — the one in Philomath and five others in Corvallis. With the value of the musical instruments and other items at $10,000-plus in the Philomath burglary, Al-ansari also was charged with felony first-degree aggravated theft.

In the Lane County case, Perlow provided in the KEZI report an example of Al-ansari’s methods, saying that he “burglarized the home of a couple he knew to be out of the state for a trip because of research he did on the internet.”

Al-ansari then allegedly used a contact in California to move the stolen items.

As reported by the Philomath News, the Mount Union Avenue resident was at a planned event when the home was burglarized. The Philomath Police Department’s investigation showed that nearly $175,000 in items had been taken, including an 18th-century Lorenzo Carcassi violin that alone was valued at $85,000. The violin and several other items were later recovered and returned to the owner.

Lane County’s Perlow said in the KEZI story that the burglary cases there were successfully resolved due to “participation from victims, sterling detective work from the Philomath and Eugene police departments, and the tenacity of the case’s prosecutor.”

Perlow noted that Al-ansari had received a commutation of a prior sentence earned from a series of property crimes in 2015, and was on probation when he committed the burglaries in 2022.

There will be more to come on this case as Al-ansari faces the Benton County charges.

The Philomath Planning Commission earlier this week unanimously approved the city’s conditional-use permit application to move forward with the creation of Paul J. Cochran Veterans Memorial Park. (Photo by Eric Niemann)

2. Veterans’ park plans move forward

The Philomath Planning Commission earlier this week unanimously approved the city’s conditional-use permit application to move forward with the creation of Paul J. Cochran Veterans Memorial Park. City code provides for the establishment of a park through that permitting process.

The 11,325-square-foot lot on the corner of North 16th and College streets was donated to the city in 2019 from the late Beverly Durham with the intention of developing the property into a park in memory of her son, Paul Cochran, who was killed in the Vietnam War.

During the public hearing, former mayor Eric Niemann, who has been heavily involved with the veterans park and has come to know the Cochran family, testified in support of approval. 

“I think it’s a good thing to have in recognition of this individual and all veterans. I think that it makes sense to have something like this,” commissioner Van Hunsaker said. “We have a letter from the American Legion … in support of it and I imagine that they may have in the future do some sort of an event or recognition … and I think that would just be in keeping with the community that we are to have something of that nature.”

The City Council late last year approved of a concept design for the project. The city set aside $248,100 in the 2022-23 fiscal year budget to build the park — that money coming out of park system development charge funds. In addition, the city has secured donations of materials and volunteer labor.

The city received a grant from the state to build and install the memorial and flagpole area.

In addition to the park decisions, the Planning Commission also re-elected Gary Conner to serve as the chair and Van Hunsaker as the vice chair.

3. Alsea seeks school superintendent

The Alsea School Board is actively searching for a new superintendent to lead its district with hopes for the administrator to begin working on July 1.

“For a new superintendent to strengthen Alsea school, they will need to bring an understanding of and experience in rural education and communities,” Sean Gallagher, acting superintendent, said through a press release. “This is an exciting time for the Alsea School District and community to secure a new leader that is prepared to move the district forward to the next steps of improvement ….”

Gallagher has been serving as the acting superintendent since last spring following the resignation of Marc Thielman, who made an unsuccessful run as a Republican candidate for governor.

“The board will be working with a group of Alsea staff and community members to hear their feedback on each candidate,” School Board Chair Risteen Follett said in the release. “This is an exciting time for us as a district and we look forward to sharing updates as we have them.”

(Brad Fuqua is publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He can be reached at News@PhilomathNews.com).

Brad Fuqua, Philomath News

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.

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