Shoplifter who had young daughter help is sentenced

A Parkersburg woman dabbed away tears Wednesday in Washington County Common Pleas Court as she was sentenced to six months in jail for a shoplifting scheme that involved two young girls.

“I’d like to apologize for the victim…I just made the wrong decision, and I know I shouldn’t have done it,” said 36-year-old Tabetha L. Jones.

The victim in this case was Walmart, said Washington County Prosecutor Jim Schneider. Jones used two 12 and 13-year-old girls-one of whom was her daughter-as coverage as she stole more than $4,000 worth of merchandise from the store on four occasions between June 16, 2012 and July 13, 2012, he said.

On one occasion, she had stolen a tool that removes security devices from electronic items and was reportedly using it when later arrested at a Parkersburg Walmart.

Jones was initially indicted on a second-degree felony count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, two fifth-degree felony counts of theft, a fifth-degree felony count of possession of criminal tools and two first-degree misdemeanor counts of theft.

On May 8, Jones was allowed to plead guilty to a single count of fifth-degree felony theft under the agreement that she would pay restitution for all of the thefts-$4,820.59, said Schneider.

Schneider asked that Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ed Lane not sentence any local jail time for Jones in anticipation that she would violate community control. Then she would be sentenced to an entire 12 months in prison without time served credit for being in local jail.

Ohio law prevents most fourth- and fifth-degree felony offenders from receiving a prison sentence. However, Jones could be sent to prison if she violates community control, noted Schneider.

“I believe she’s going to violate probation and (not getting a jail sentence now) will mean more time in prison,” he said.

Schneider said he believed she would re-offend because of her lengthy prior record, something Jones’ attorney attributed to a rough life.

“She was abused by her uncle. She was pregnant at a very young age… She suffers from depression, ADHD and bipolar disorder,” said Parkersburg attorney George Cosenza.

Jones was not taking her prescribed medication for those disorders at the time of the offense because she could not afford them, added Cosenza.

Lane reasoned that Jones’ troubled past should have deterred her from crime.

“If you’ve had the childhood you said you’d had, I’d think you’d want something better for your kids,” said Lane.

Using the girls to help her shoplift is “just not what a mother does,” he added.

Lane sentenced Jones to five years of community control and six months in the Washington County Jail-the maximum sentence available to him, he said.

He also ordered that Jones pay the nearly $5,000 restitution within five years and that she undergo evaluation for the court’s “Thinking For A Change” program, a cognitive behavioral change program developed by The National Institute of Corrections.