Archived Story

Man shoplifts to pay fines, collects more fines

Published 1:16pm Friday, November 2, 2012

CASSOPOLIS — In an attempt to pay off overdue court costs and fines from a past conviction, a 44-year-old Dowagiac man resorted to shoplifting and wound up putting himself more in debt.

James Starling was sentenced Friday in Cass County Circuit Court to 365 days in jail and ordered to pay more than $1,500 in court costs and fines.

“He chose the wrong method to pay for those (fines),” said Lawrence Quigley, Starling’s attorney.

“His plan was poor,” said Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz.

Judge Michael Dodge said Starling was on probation for non-payment of fines when he was caught stealing merchandise from the Family Dollar store in Dowagiac on Aug. 19.

When police arrived Starling fled the scene and had to be taken to the ground by police.

“It ended up with you being… maced in the face,” Dodge said.

Fitz said Starling hasn’t had a job since 1996.

“That’s just shameful,” Fitz said.

Starling received credit for 77 days served.

He pleaded guilty in August to resisting and obstructing a police officer and second-degree retail fraud as an habitual offender third. Sentencing guidelines were five to 34 months.

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