The Juneau woman who was given a plea deal by the State of Alaska in a theft case did not call in for a scheduled status report on Wednesday before Juneau Superior Court Judge Patricia Collins and has been unreachable by her public defender, David Seid.
Christine Wallace, 23, entered a guilty plea on Feb. 17 to attempting to obtain merchandise totaling $2,515 from the Juneau Sears store between August and December of 2010, and that original charge of theft in the second degree, a class C felony, was reduced in the plea to a class A misdemeanor.
Seid stated he keeps getting an automated recording saying the phone number can not be completed as dialed when he tries to contact Wallace at the number she gave him.
State’s attorney Amy Williams asked for and was granted a bench warrant to have Wallace arrested.
Collins issued an extraditable $5,000 cash only bench warrant and stated that as part of the plea agreement originally offered the sentencing portion was not accepted until a residential treatment program was completed.
Wallace was supposed to be in California attending such a program.
Sears store owner Rena Sims and her husband were present in court and thanked Collins for her efforts.
“The state of Alaska always extradites,” Collins said. “When people commit a crime in this state they bring them back.”
As part of the original plea agreement Wallace received 12 months in jail with nine suspended and three years probation on condition of completing a residential treatment program for up to 90 days or longer.
At the time Seid asked that the conditions of release be modified so the defendant could travel to California and Williams agreed if the travel was for treatment purposes only.
Collins had told Wallace that she was getting a big reduction from a felony to a misdemeanor.
Sims spoke passionately at the original hearing and stated that Wallace worked at the restaurant and her husband, Jacob Whittington, was the Sears assistant manager.
A second charge in the indictment is against Whittington and a warrant has been issued for his arrest.
Sims stated video cameras showed Wallace and Whittington coming into the store, taking merchandise, laughing and joking, and ringing up gift cards. The $500 credit gift cards were sold online at a reduced price and merchandise was taken to a local pawnshop.
“And here we are, I have over $14,000, not $2,000 worth of stuff missing,” an impassioned Sims said. “And $7,500 worth in credit cards, not to mention the $4,700 in televisions and VCRs.”
Sims and her husband have raised more than 200 foster children, and Sims said some have stolen.
“But we make our kids go back and admit it and give restitution,” Sims said. “I feel like I am being cheated. As a Sears owner I have to pay the remaining balance. I have a family of 13. She gets to walk on reduced charges, 10 days in jail, three months in California sunshine city, while the rest of us are still back here. We get nothing, not an apology, not an I’m sorry, nothing. I want you to hear from my heart how this has affected our family. This wasn’t just a one time compulsive theft, this was days of theft from our family.”
When the thefts were discovered Sims gave the Juneau Police Department store videos of Wallace and Whittington committing the thefts. The JPD served a search warrant for Whittington’s residence and contacted the couple there.
Whittington and Wallace admitted to using the gift cards to purchase Sears items and then pawning them at a local pawnshop. Whittington also said he gave gift cards to two other people, and it was confirmed that they also pawned items.
At the time Collins had said she would decide if she accepted the plea deal at the sentencing hearing.
Seid stated that his client admitted to her part of the crime but the person really responsible is Whittington and he is still on the run and had left Wallace.
• Contact reporter Klas Stolpe at 523-2263 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.