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Serial Walmart thief sentenced to state prison

January 30, 2019

A 23-year-old Johnstown man who has committed at least a dozen retail theft crimes, mostly at Walmart, since 2016 is now an inmate in the state prison system.

Somerset County President Judge D. Gregory Geary sentenced Benjamin Schmidtetter Monday to 16 to 36 months in prison for retail theft, a third-degree felony. He was given credit for seven days of time served.

The charge is a felony because of Schmidtetter’s habit of taking merchandise from a store, namely electronics, and not paying for it.

The prison sentence is followed by four years of supervised probation.

The judge noted that Schmidtetter was serving probationary sentences in other counties for retail theft when he stole from the Walmart in Somerset Township on July 25, July 30 and Aug. 2. Police said he took merchandise worth nearly $6,000. He was charged with the crimes Aug. 12.

According to court documents, he was sentenced for a felony retail theft on May 21 in Allegheny County to 18 months’ probation; in Blair County on April 7, 2017, to five years’ probation; in Cambria County on Jan. 8 to nine to 23 months in the Cambria County Prison; and in Somerset County on Oct. 5, 2017, to 16 days to 23 months in jail followed by three years’ probation. He is facing another case in Cambria County involving retail theft.

Schmidtetter meets the criteria for placement in Pennsylvania’s Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive program, which gives nonviolent offenders an opportunity to get out of prison early if they comply with a host of requirements and behave while behind bars. The program is designed to reduce an offender’s risk of reoffending, according to Geary, who told Schmidtetter that his alternative minimum date for release is 12 months.

Geary ordered Schmidtetter to pay the costs of prosecution and supervision. He must submit to DNA testing and pay the $250 DNA detection fee. He also must pay $5,922.94 in restitution to Walmart.

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