Walmart thief gets 15 days in jail

A West Virginia man whose theft spree at multiple Walmart stores ended in Marietta was sentenced Monday in Washington County Common Pleas Court to 15 days in jail-which he will finish serving in late September.

Cody Peters, 28, of 1264 12th St., Weston, pleaded guilty Jan. 21 to a fifth-degree felony count of theft for his role in the thefts where he and another Weston man-Rick A. Meitzen Jr., 33-successfully stole items from Walmart stores in St. Clairsville and Cambridge before getting caught trying to roll out of the Marietta Walmart with cartloads of unpaid merchandise on May 14.

Peters told Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Randall Burnworth that the incident was the biggest mistake of his life.

“I want to apologize to you sir, and I want to apologize to the community. It was wrongful and probably the biggest mistake I ever made in my life,” he said.

Burnworth said Peters’ “biggest mistake” claim was probably accurate, noting that Peters has no other criminal history and was employed at the time of the crime.

In fact, his continued employment was the reason he was being granted an intermittent sentence, said Burnworth.

“That’s done for your employment, so you can continue to support your family and pay the restitution and court costs,” he said.

Peters and Meitzen will be jointly responsible for $661.19 in restitution, said Burnworth.

Because they were caught on the way out, all of the merchandise from the Marietta Walmart was recovered. There they had walked out with $305.09 worth of unpaid merchandise.

A theft must surpass $1,000 in value to warrant a felony charge. The pair did not steal more $1,000 worth of merchandise from any one Walmart store. However, the fact that they all targeted the same victim and happened in one day meant they could be bound together to constitute a single felony act, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider.

The pair stole around $1,400 worth of total merchandise from all three stores, said Schneider.

Schneider said he gave Peters and Meitzen the option of pleading to a felony count covering all three charges, or a misdemeanor count in Washington County, which would give the other two counties the option to prosecute the men there as well.

Schneider said the men knew when given the options that the felony charge would likely carry a lesser sentence than the misdemeanor due to an agreed disposition with Burnworth in Common Pleas Court that wouldn’t apply to the misdemeanor in Marietta Municipal Court. Schneider agreed to this to incentivize the men to plead to the higher charge, which would be on their record, he said.

While Peters took the felony option, Meitzen pleaded to the misdemeanor covering the Marietta theft and was sentenced to 60 days in jail and two years of community control.

“I notified the Guernsey County folks and Belmont County. He could be prosecuted in both of those,” said Schneider.

All of the items were recovered in the vehicle the pair was driving, but the restitution figure covered items that could not be returned to the shelves, such as food items, he said.

Burnworth sentenced Peters to one year of community control and ordered him to spend 15 days in the Washington County Jail, two of which Peters has already served.

Peters will serve approximately one weekend a month, entering the jail at 6 p.m. on those Fridays and leaving at the same time Sunday, said his attorney George Cosenza. That will leave him with a single 24-hour day to serve Sept. 25.