Theft case over

EAST LIVERPOOL – The man police believe caused the evacuation of the Calcutta Walmart April 9 appeared in Municipal Court Thursday, along with another man with whom he is reportedly connected in regard to thefts from the store.

John S. Hester, 53, who is homeless, appeared before Judge Melissa Byers Emmerling on a charge of inducing panic in relation to a suspicious electronic contraption he is accused of leaving in the Walmart electronics department.

The device was found not to be explosive by members of the Youngstown Bomb Squad after the store was evacuated and kept closed for several hours.

Hester was bound over to Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on the charge, with his $75,000 cash/surety bond continued.

He pleaded no contest to two counts of complicity-theft. For one he was fined $200, sentenced to 180 days, 100 suspended and placed on probation two years. For the other, he was fined $200 and sentenced to 45 days, none suspended.

The complicity charges stem from Hester reportedly returning to the Walmart store the night of the evacuation with Brian S. Goodlin, 30, Vesta Street, Chester, W.Va. and waiting outside while Goodlin stole a 50-inch television set, which he then helped load into his vehicle.

The television, valued at $508, was sold to a woman a short time later for $250.

The second complicity charge resulted from the theft of a television April 5 from Walmart in which police reported Goodlin placed the TV in a shopping cart, with Hester following him out of the store and helping him put it into the same vehicle reportedly used in the April 9 incident. That television was sold by Hester, who then gave Goodlin part of the proceeds, according to police.

Goodlin also appeared before Byers Emmerling Thursday on two counts of theft. He was fined $200, sentenced to 180 days, 100 suspended, and placed on probation two years for one, and was fined $200 and sentenced to 45 days, none suspended, on the other.