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Published: July 26, 2008 05:30 am ShareThisPrintThis
Ruse leads to more serious charges in shoplifting case
By Julie Manganis
Staff writer

DANVERS - A Peabody man's ruse to try and escape a store security guard who caught him shoplifting backfired after the guard believed he showed her a knife.
Now Joseph Kennedy, who at 21 already has a four-page criminal record, is heading to jail for 21/2 years, after pleading guilty to felony charges of intimidating to steal and assault with a dangerous weapon - what turned out to be a cell phone tucked into his waistband.
Kennedy, of 62 Lowell St., was arrested on a warrant one month after two shoplifting incidents at Kohl's, a department store in the Liberty Tree Mall. After the second incident, on Nov. 17, 2007, a store security guard chased him out of the store, prosecutor Marcia Slingerland told a judge during a hearing yesterday in Salem Superior Court.
As he ran, Kennedy turned, lifted his shirt and pointed to something in his waistband, yelling, "I've got something for you."
The guard thought he had a weapon and continued chasing him. She lost sight of him as he ran onto a ramp leading to Route 128.
But what would have likely been a garden-variety shoplifting case ended up in front of a grand jury because of the implied threat.
Kennedy was identified by a Danvers police officer who saw him on a store surveillance tape and recognized him from a prior jail term. He was also identified on a tape of another shoplifting a week earlier, on Nov. 10.
Slingerland asked Judge Howard Whitehead to send Kennedy to prison for three to five years, pointing to his record, which includes prior similar charges and violations of probation.
His lawyer, Lawrence McGuire, said his client was simply trying to get away and used poor judgment.
The judge imposed the 21/2-year jail term on the assault and misdemeanor larceny charges and five years of probation on the most serious charge. Intimidation to steal carries a potential life sentence - and Whitehead warned that he could get anything up to that if he violates his probation.
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