A young Tri-City couple accused of stealing wallets from the carts of elderly female shoppers remain out of custody pending trial.
Joshua Devon Babb, 21, previously was charged in Benton County Superior Court with one count each of second- and third-degree theft and possession of hydrocodone.
He posted bond on $1,000 bail, but prosecutors had asked a judge Thursday to increase the bail to $5,000 after adding three second-degree theft charges against Babb.
Defense attorney Sal Mendoza Jr. argued against the bail increase, saying his client has stayed in contact, as required, with him.
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Babb, who recently moved to the Tri-Cities, also appeared in court for his hearing Thursday and has stayed out of trouble, he said. The additional charges filed against Babb stemmed from alleged activity that occurred before the first charges.
Judge Craig Matheson agreed to leave the bail as previously set. Babb pleaded innocent Thursday to the new theft charges, and his trial remains set for Sept. 17.
Babb's girlfriend, Erica Renea Kennedy, also was in court Thursday and pleaded innocent to four counts of second-degree theft and one count of third-degree theft.
The 21-year-old West Richland woman was jailed after her arrest, but jail staff asked that she be released because of complications with her pregnancy.
Kennedy remained released on her own personal recognizance. Her trial is Oct. 8.
According to court documents, Babb and Kennedy struck up a conversation July 27 with an 81-year-old woman in the hair product aisle at the Richland Walmart.
While Babb talked with the older woman about shampoo, the victim allegedly noticed Kennedy's hand near her purse in the shopping cart.
When the pair left, the woman checked and discovered her coin purse was missing from her purse, documents said.
She quickly reported the theft to a loss prevention officer who called police because "the two fit the description of a woman and a man who were suspected in prior thefts from customers' purses," documents said.
Babb and Kennedy still were in the store when Richland officers responded. They found a hydrocodone pill in a baggie on Babb, in addition to a wallet concealed in his underwear, documents said.
The wallet belonged to another woman, who had not yet left the store. She told police that the wallet was inside her hat in her cart, and she realized it was gone when she went to pay for her merchandise.
Richland woman apologizes, starts to pay for embezzlement
A Richland woman apologized Thursday for embezzling more than $14,500 while working as the office manager for a Richland web software creator.
Lisa Louise McGaughey, 31, provided Benton County prosecutors with a check for $5,000 before being sentenced Thursday, which covered the full restitution being sought by &yet's insurance company.
"I'm aware of the damage I've done to the company and my family, and I'm ashamed and I'm really sorry," McGaughey told Superior Court Judge Craig Matheson. "I made those decisions before I had my daughter and every time I look at her I think I'm a terrible role model."
McGaughey pleaded guilty May 17 to second-degree theft. She had been charged with first-degree theft, but prosecutors reduced the charge because the owner of &yet didn't want to pursue charges against McGaughey, and her lack of criminal history.
The plea deal also included a requirement that McGaughey pay at least $1,000 owed to the insurance company.
Deputy Prosecutor Kristin McRoberts recommended a one-month sentence, with no objection to work crew or work release. She said that the victim didn't want to see McGaughey prosecuted "says a lot about the defendant."
McGaughey worked for &yet and had access to the company's checking and savings accounts via a debit card, when the theft occurred between Sept. 12 and Dec. 12, 2011.
During that time, she kept $1,696.45 in cash back from legitimate purchases, instead of returning it to her employer, court documents said. She also made $1,960 in unauthorized checking withdrawals and $10,869 in unauthorized savings withdrawals from the company accounts, documents said.
McGaughey was fired after the theft was discovered Dec. 12.
Because of the business' financial loss, the matter had to be reported to its insurance company, which then contacted Richland police, prosecutors said.
Defense attorney Dan Arnold said he was as surprised as his client that she committed the offense and told the judge, "We're not going to see her again."
McGaughey asked if home monitoring was available, but Judge Matheson said it wasn't. He agreed to give her two weeks to report to jail and said the time can be completed on work crew or work release.
Adam Brault, owner of &yet, told the Herald that McGaughey was a very close part of their team and is "somebody that we cared immensely about and still continue to do so."
"We completely forgive her ... and very, very strongly want her to forgive herself and move forward," he said.