Panel backs conviction of deputy in salt theft
The deputy was fired from the sheriff's department last summer.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A three-judge panel of the 7th District Court of Appeals has unanimously upheld a former Mahoning County deputy sheriff's conviction for stealing rock salt.
On Friday, Judges Joseph J. Vukovich, Gene Donofrio and Cheryl L. Waite upheld the guilty verdict rendered by Judge Diane Vettori of Mahoning County Area Court in Austintown against Jeffrey Haney II, 36, of Glacier Heights Road.
Austintown police stopped Haney after Haney loaded eight 50-pound bags of rock salt worth $85.52 from in front of a closed Sears store onto his truck on Thanksgiving Day 2004.
When police stopped him, Haney said he would return the rock salt, then he told police he intended to have his wife go to the store the next day to pay for it, court documents said.
Haney was arrested on a petty theft charge and convicted in a 90-minute trial in May 2005. Judge Vettori sentenced him Aug. 1, 2005, to 90 days in jail with 80 days suspended, placed him on a year's probation and fined him $250.
She then told him he could purge his sentence by speaking at four area schools on the ramifications of decisions and their consequences as approved by a probation officer.
Haney went on sick leave in December 2004 and was fired by the sheriff's department in July 2005 after failing to appear at a predisciplinary hearing.
Haney's lawyer, James Gentile, argued in the appeal that the guilty verdict "is against the sufficiency and manifest weight of the evidence."
But Judge Vukovich observed in the appeals court decision that it's not customary in this society to remove merchandise from a closed store and return the next day to pay for it, especially when dealing with a large corporation such as Sears, and that Haney drove off without leaving any note or money at the store.
"Other stores were open at the time and sold rock salt. However, Haney did not go to these stores," Judge Vukovich added.