Wagon Wheel thief pleads guilty, gets 10 days in jail

A former Wagon Wheel employee who took $716 from the Ocean Drive store in September after falsely claiming he had been robbed has pleaded guilty to third-degree theft. On Nov. 10 at the Homer Courthouse before Judge Margaret Murphy, Tommy L. Neal, 20, also pleaded guilty to new charges of fourth-degree theft and violating conditions of release. 

Homer Police charged Neal with violating conditions of release for not obeying all laws while out on bail for the Wagon Wheel theft offense. Police on Nov. 5 arrested Neal at his Bayview Avenue apartment on the new charges, all misdemeanors.

In the November charges, police said Neal took $30 from the Homer High School Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center on Nov. 4. According to a criminal complaint by Officer Larry Baxter, a pool employee reported money missing from a cash box at the front counter after the employee counted the till at the end of the business day. The employee said she had briefly left the counter about 3 p.m. Nov. 4 and thought the money could have been taken between 2:30 and 3:30 p.m. On Nov. 5, Baxter reviewed security video footage and said the video showed a man he recognized as Neal hanging around the counter between 3:30 and 3:45 p.m. and then go to the counter and leave. 

 Murphy sentenced Neal to 30 days in jail with 25 days suspended for the Wagon Wheel third-degree theft and 50 days in jail with 45 days suspended on the Kate Kuhns Aquatic Center theft — that is, 10 days total in jail, with credit for time served. He also was fined $500 with $500 suspended and sentenced to 60 days in jail with 60 days suspended on the violating conditions of release.

Neal was ordered to apply for an Alaska Permanent Fund Dividend and pay restitution, ordered not to have contact with the Wagon Wheel or Homer High School, and was placed on probation for one year. 

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

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