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Baton Rouge man loses 2 jobs in 1 day over theft arrest

Employers don't always wait for a verdict to terminate the employment of a worker charged with a crime. Even a misdemeanor charge can affect the career of an employee, especially when he or she holds hold a position that's the focus of public attention.

A Baton Rouge television reporter lost his job immediately after WBRZ-TV officials learned the man had been arrested on a charge of misdemeanor theft. The 27-year-old man was accused of stealing from a second employer, a clothing store at a Gonzales mall where he worked part time.

A surveillance camera apparently picked up the J. Crew worker ripping off price tags from clothing in the store and transferring the value to gift cards, effectively a store credit. The clothes then were listed as returned merchandise.

Under Louisiana laws, theft charges involve fraudulent activity as much as physically stealing an item. Charges and penalties upon conviction increase in severity according to the value of the item the defendant is accused of taking.

Officers said the former reporter converted about $350 in clothing values and admitted to store security officials he committed the theft. The investigation remains open. Loss prevention authorities at J. Crew are planning to scan past store videos for further evidence.

Police arrested the defendant at work and placed him in jail. The defendant posted bail the following day. He had been on the reporting staff at WBRZ-TV since May 2012.

A petty theft charge doesn't seem like a big deal, but charges and a conviction can have serious and long-term consequences. For instance, theft of property worth less than $500 can carry a $1,000 fine and a six-month term of imprisonment. Financial penalties may be added, if a merchant files a civil claim.

The long-lasting punishments defendants face are responses by loved ones, friends, colleagues and bosses. Relationships at every level, employability and finances can be affected.

Source: The Advocate, "WBRZ multimedia reporter fired after arrest in Gonzales theft" David J. Mitchell, Feb. 02, 2014

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