Union Township reptile theft case may hinge on value

mcarroll@centredaily.comSeptember 20, 2013 

How much for the snake?

That’s the question prosecutors and a defense attorney debated Thursday at a pretrial conference for accused snake burglar Nathan Flick, of Milesburg.

Flick, 20, is charged with stealing 13 exotic, and allegedly pricy, reptiles in May from a mobile home in Union Township.

But an apparent disagreement about the worth of those snakes may be holding up a possible plea deal and resolution of the case. Flick’s attorney, Richard Settgast, said the more the reptiles are worth, the more severe the penalty his client could be facing.

Police have said the python morph snakes, a special breed that sports unique markings on their skin, are valued at $30,000 — or more than $2,300 per snake.

Assistant District Attorney Nathan Boob said if the case goes to trial he’ll bring in an expert snake breeder to testify to their value.

“Why don’t you get someone from Petco to come in,” joked Centre County Judge Bradley P. Lunsford.

The owners of the snakes previously said whoever broke into their home knew exactly what they were looking for, leaving some of the creatures behind and only taking the valuable ones.

Flick said he knows “a little bit” about snakes when asked by Lunsford.

According to police, Flick was arrested at a weekend reptile expo in Hamburg, allegedly trying to sell the stolen snakes for $7,100.

Boob said one of the snakes was injured during the ordeal and remains in the hospital, while the rest have been returned to their owners. Several of the snakes were pregnant at the time and lost their young.

Matt Carroll can be reached at 231-4631. Follow him on Twitter @Carrollreporter.

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