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Man charged with trying to steal cameras pleads guilty

| Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009

A 52-year-old Ohio man arrested in May on charges that he used pepper spray while attempting to steal cameras at the Wal-Mart in the Hilltop Plaza in East Franklin pleaded guilty in Armstrong County court Friday.

Paul Edward Smartt Jr., of 7108 Longview Drive, Solon, Ohio, pleaded guilty to charges of robbery, retail theft, simple assault and harassment in the case against him.

According to assistant district attorney George Kepple, Smartt placed the cameras inside another box and when he was stopped leaving the store, he resisted and used pepper spray on an employee.

Smartt removed a $10 box fan from its packaging at the Wal-Mart and put two Canon digital cameras, valued at $1,428, inside in place of the fan, court documents said. He paid for the fan and was leaving the store when the security alarm triggered.

As Smartt was being escorted through the store he produced a can of pepper spray from his pocket and sprayed it in the face of an employee, according to the criminal affidavit.

The plea included a recommendation by the District Attorney's office that Smartt serve 18 to 36 months on the charge of robbery. The remaining charges will be withdrawn.

Judge James Panchik said Smartt could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of $25,000.

Smartt is scheduled for sentencing Nov. 24.

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