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Man pleads guilty to theft charge in Wal-Mart incident

November 04, 2005|by PEPPER BALLARD

The same day Richard Alan Baker got notice he was denied food stamps, the 34-year-old Hagerstown man went to Wal-Mart, stocked a grocery cart and left the store without paying for nearly $200 worth of goods, his attorney told a Washington County Circuit Court judge Thursday.

"He made a foolish decision ... He was acting out of a sense of not really knowing what else to do," John Corderman told Circuit Judge Donald E. Beachley after his client pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft for the April incident.

Baker "stood by the men's bathroom" with his loaded grocery cart on April 21 before buying something at McDonald's and leaving the Garland Groh Boulevard store without paying for the items in the cart, Washington County Assistant State's Attorney Robert Veil said. After Baker left the store, he was pursued toward the lawn and garden center and then to Ryan's Steakhouse, where he was apprehended, Veil said.

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Beachley sentenced Baker, whose last known address was 11104 Shadybrook Court, to serve six months, which he suspended, at the Washington County Detention Center. He placed Baker on two years of unsupervised probation and ordered him to pay $200 in court costs and fines by Dec. 9.

Baker was ordered to pay $169.87 to Wal-Mart on Garland Groh Boulevard by Nov. 23. According to charging documents, the items stolen were mostly household and grocery items, including "soda, meats, cookies, Tylenol, toothbrush's (sic) and cereal."

Baker, who now is employed as a residential counselor at a Department of Juvenile Services detention facility, told Beachley that his wife didn't have a job at the time of the theft, either.

"It was a challenge in life that you went through ... You handled it improperly," Beachley told him before he announced his sentence.

Baker said his new employer and three young sons knew of the pending charges.

"I made a terrible mistake ... I made a choice," he said. "It was definitely the wrong choice."

Baker said he told his sons there are other ways to handle a tough situation.

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