SALT LAKE CITY – Burglary and theft charges were filed Thursday against Richard Albert Ricci, the handyman who worked in the home of kidnapped teenager Elizabeth Smart.
Salt Lake City Police Chief Rick Dinse said the charges against Ricci, 48, were not related to Elizabeth's June 5 abduction, although Ricci remains at the top of the list of potential suspects.
"If I could charge him, I would charge him," Dinse said at a press conference Thursday afternoon. "He has not been charged with that crime and is not the sole focus of the investigation."
Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom said Ricci, a career criminal, could be sent to prison for the rest of his life if convicted of the felony and misdemeanor charges. He is being held without bail and will be arraigned on Friday or Monday, Yocom said.
Ricci faces one count of theft for allegedly stealing $3,500 worth of items from the Smarts' home on June 6, 2001. A search of Ricci's home on June 19 turned up jewelry, a perfume bottle and a wine glass filled with sea shells that belonged to the Smarts, according to charging documents.
In addition, he is charged with one count of burglary and another count of theft for allegedly taking items from a home in the Smarts' wealthy neighborhood in April 2001. Jewelry and about $300 in cash were taken during the night burglary from a bedroom as a resident slept in the same room, according to the charges.
Ricci's attorney, David Smith, said the charges were the result of his client's cooperation with police. "I think they're trying to bring as much pressure to bear on him as possible," he said.
Because Ricci is considered a career criminal, he faces up to life in prison for the charges. He already is in prison on unrelated parole violations. Ricci was to make his initial court appearance Wednesday.
Elizabeth, 14, was apparently kidnapped at gunpoint from her bedroom as her younger sister watched.
Two weeks ago, Ricci said an exhaustive search of his home and belongings by police had turned up nothing.
Police, who have consistently refused to comment on forensic evidence, confiscated a golf hat from Ricci's father-in-law, who lives next door to Ricci's trailer home.
The sole witness to Elizabeth's abduction, her 9-year-old sister Mary Katherine Smart, told police the man who took Elizabeth was wearing a similar tan hat.
Police also have confiscated Ricci's 1990 Jeep Cherokee, which he received from Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father, in exchange for his handyman work.
On Wednesday, Ed Smart said he received a letter that he suspects may have come from someone with knowledge of his daughter's abduction.
But Smart also said he could not say whether the unsigned letter, which he received Tuesday, was credible. It lacked any solid information that would indicate it came from a person with specific information about his daughter, Smart said at a news briefing.
Salt Lake City Police Capt. Scott Atkinson said police were talking to Ed Smart about the letter. Atkinson said Smart gave them a copy after telling reporters about it.
Ed Smart said the decision to disclose the letter publicly was his own. "The police have absolutely nothing to do with this," he said.
"I'm just anxious to do whatever it's going to take to get her back," he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.