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Norton father pleads guilty in shoplifting spree

Stephen Igo • Updated Feb 21, 2018 at 2:10 PM

WISE — A 39-year-old Norton man who used his children to steal merchandise from Walmart pleaded guilty to multiple charges on Tuesday in Wise County Circuit Court.

On Wednesday, Wise County Commonwealth’s Attorney Chuck Slemp said Joseph Michael Mullins pleaded guilty to four counts of felony shoplifting, six counts of misdemeanor shoplifting and eight counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Slemp said that between Dec. 9, 2016 and Feb. 1, 2017, Mullins shoplifted multiple times from Walmart in Norton. On four separate dates, items stolen were valued at more than $200, resulting in the felony charges, Slemp said, adding that Mullins used his two minor children to help him commit the crimes.

On each occasion, Slemp said, Mullins would purchase a small amount of items and put each into a Walmart shopping bag. After the purchased items were put in a shopping cart, Slemp said, the children would place multiple unpurchased items in the bags. Stolen items ranged from food to power tools.

“It is especially alarming when someone goes to the extreme of manipulating a child to commit crimes. I believe that our children are our future and that we should go the extra mile to teach them to be virtuous and respectful of the property of others,” Slemp said.

“What happened in this case is quite the opposite and is wildly unacceptable. We are pleased with these convictions and hope that the judge will fashion an appropriate sentence for this outrageous conduct.”

Sentencing is scheduled for May 3. Total maximum penalties are up to 96 years in prison. The case was prosecuted by Slemp and Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Tim Pettman.

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