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Hagerstown man sentenced in theft from Pa. business

April 19, 2002|BY STACEY DANZUSO

chambersburg@herald-mail.com

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Hagerstown man who had been charged with helping steal cash from a Chambersburg business and later setting the empty lock box on fire to cover up the crime was sentenced Wednesday to serve at least nine months in prison.

Robert L. Hoffman, of 147 E. Franklin St., was one of two men charged in the Sept. 23 theft and fire at T.B. Woods, 440 Fifth Ave., Chambersburg.

Hoffman, 23, initially was charged with arson, conspiracy to commit arson, criminal mischief and theft by unlawful taking.

As part of an agreement, Hoffman pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge with the other three charges dropped.

On Sept. 23 at 12:40 a.m., a security guard at T.B. Woods discovered a fire in a cubicle in the office area of the plant. The fire was contained to a desk drawer, according to police records.

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Hoffman and codefendant Abraham E. Boyd, 20, who were employed by a private cleaning service, were the only others present, according to court records.

The smoldering contents of the drawer included a metal cash box, from which $1,665 was missing, court records show. The cleanup and smoke removal cost more than $15,000.

According to court records, Hoffman and Boyd each pointed the finger at the other.

Hoffman said Boyd took the money the day before and gave him $400 to keep quiet about it. He has said he purchased a new lock box, along with gloves and kerosene to start the fire, before going into work Sept. 23. He alleged in court records that the other man replaced the lock box and set the fire.

Boyd said Hoffman gave him a $400 cut and set the fire, according to court records.

Hoffman said in court Wednesday that he put his share of the money back and that he thought Boyd wanted the kerosene for camping.

"In this case the law holds each person involved equally responsible," Judge Douglas Herman said.

Defense attorney Jim Reed argued for a local sentence because Hoffman has no prior criminal record.

"Mr. Hoffman got involved in a situation that if he had taken time to think about, he surely would not have done," Reed said.

Herman sentenced Hoffman to serve nine to 60 months in state prison and to make restitution of $21,430.14. He also recommended Hoffman for the state Department of Corrections boot camp program.

"If you are admitted and complete it, you may be eligible to be released prior to your minimum sentence," he said.

Boyd, of 9061/2 Salem Ave., Hagerstown, faces the same charges. His case has not been resolved, according to court records.

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