Cloquet man sentenced in convoluted tale of theftA Cloquet man has been sentenced to 17 months in prison (stayed) on one count of felony theft after taking part in a May 3 theft in the parking lot of a local restaurant in Cloquet.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A Cloquet man has been sentenced to 17 months in prison (stayed) on one count of felony theft after taking part in a May 3 theft in the parking lot of a local restaurant in Cloquet. Brittan Jay Michael Smith, 28, pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft during a hearing in Carlton County Court last Wednesday. Judge Dale Wolf stayed Smith’s sentence for three years and placed him on three years of supervised probation. Smith must also complete a chemical assessment, refrain from alcohol and other controlled substances, supply a DNA sample, have no contact with the victim(s) or his co-defendant, and pay restitution. He must also pay court fees of $1,660.
According to the criminal complaint filed in the case, police were dispatched to a report of a theft at the restaurant and were told by the owner that between $8,000 and $9,000 had been stolen from his vehicle parked in the lot. Officers learned that Smith had been seen at the restaurant by witnesses at the time the money was stolen. Smith was then interviewed and admitted to being involved in the theft along with Daniel James Barney, 20, of Cloquet.
Witnesses said Barney was also seen at the restaurant near the time of the theft. When investigators interviewed Barney, he also admitted going into the vehicle along with Smith and stealing the money.
The complaint went onto say that officers then learned Charity Kaye Ferguson, 20, and Felicia Kaye Hraban, 20, had at some point taken possession of the stolen cash, which Ferguson admitted they knew had been stolen from the restaurant. While searching Ferguson’s home, officers overheard Ferguson talking to Hraban about the money and where it was located, but when officers went to find the money, they discovered that someone else had already taken it.
Hraban then confessed to police that the money had been moved and was now stored near a semi-truck stored behind a local business. She also confessed to burying some of the money near her parents’ property in the 1700 block of County Road 7. Hraban then showed officers where it was buried and they began digging. They located a Wal-Mart bag under about two to three inches of earth. Inside the bag the officers discovered two red licorice bags with U.S. currency in each bag. Hraban admitted to police that she was aware the cash was stolen.
It was later discovered that Ferguson had been an employee at the restaurant where the money was stolen.
Ferguson has been charged with one count of receiving stolen property and one count of aiding an offender to avoid arrest, both felonies. She is scheduled for a contested omnibus on Aug. 29.
Hraban likewise faces charges of receiving stolen property and aiding an offender to avoid arrest. She is slated to appear for a settlement conference on Aug. 26.
Barney is charged with felony theft and is set for a settlement conference Aug. 21.
Smith is no stranger to the court system. He and his father, David Michael Smith, 51, were arrested after they were found to be in possession of personal items and jewelry stolen from a Cloquet home Oct. 24, 2011. The total for damage to property and stolen items -- including personal items and jewelry -- was estimated at $30,000.
Smith was sentenced to 17 months in prison for that incident on March 2, 2012, after pleading guilty to one felony count of receiving stolen property. His sentence was stayed for three years, and Judge Wolf ordered him to serve three years of supervised probation.
According to Assistant Carlton County Attorney Jeffrey Boucher, Smith was discharged early from probation on Feb, 14, 2013. However, because he was within the original pronounced term of his probation at the time of this most recent theft, he received a custody status point for the current sentencing. Boucher explained this changed his presumptive sentence from a 15-month stayed sentence to a 17-month stayed sentence. Smith had previously accrued three criminal history points, 2.5 for prior felonies and one for being within the original term of probation. Boucher said for this particular offense, a criminal history score of four is required for a presumptive commit to prison.