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Man arrested for felony shoplifting after officers discover yogurt, cheese in his pockets

FRENCH CREEK – A Harrison County man was arrested for felony shoplifting recently after he allegedly concealed containers of yogurt, cheese and hot peanuts – which he did not have enough money to pay for – in his clothing.

Michael Brugnoli, 48, of Hepzibah, W.Va., was arrested Friday, May 10, for shoplifting third offense, a felony, after allegedly taking the items from the Dollar General in French Creek and hiding them on his person several weeks prior on April 21.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by investigating officer Senior Trooper P.J. Robinette with the Buckhannon detachment of the West Virginia State Police, on April 21 at 8:40 p.m., he and Cpl. B.J. Wright were dispatched to assist Sgt. Tom Posey with the Buckhannon Police Department, who needed assistance in locating a suspect involved in a larceny investigation.

Officers were informed that the person in question was driving a gold Pontiac Grand Am with wood posts sticking out of the windows and was traveling south on Route 20.

While attempting to locate the vehicle, the Upshur County Communication Center informed officers that an employee with the Dollar General Store in French Creek had called to report that a vehicle matching that description was illegally parked, taking up three parking spots in the store’s parking lot.

The Comm Center also reportedly stated three individuals had exited the vehicle and were currently inside the store.

Robinette located the individuals, one of whom was Brugnoli. Brugnoli was reportedly standing in the back corner of the store and was observed holding an unopened bottle of Coca-Cola, one unopened bag of Dove Chocolate, one unopened bag of hot peanuts and an open bag of Dove Chocolate.

Brugnoli was “actively eating” a piece of chocolate when Robinette instructed him to exit the store in order to speak with Wright and Posey, according to the report. Robinette asked Brugnoli if he had money to pay for the items, and he said he did.

Robinette instructed Brugnoli to leave the items on the front counter of the store, saying he could return to pay for them once he was done speaking with officers.

According to the complaint, after exiting the store, Robinette then performed an officer safety search on Brugnoli and located cold containers of yogurt inside both of his front jean pockets as well as one stuffed in the back of his pants.

Robinette also reportedly found an opened block of Clover Valley brand cheddar cheese in his left back pocket in addition to an unopened pack of hot peanuts in his front left jacket pocket. Robinette then asked Brugnoli where the items had come from.

Brugnoli replied that he had purchased the items from a gas station but could not tell Robinette where, the complaint says. Robinette then asked him if the items had come from inside the Dollar General, and Brugnoli said no.

Robinette then told Brugnoli that Clover Valley Brand cheese was only carried by Dollar General stores, at which point Brugnoli restated he had previously bought it inside a gas station, according to the report.

The report states officers determined Brugnoli knew he did not have enough money to pay for the items and concealed them on his person.

The complaint also says Brugnoli has two prior convictions of shoplifting, both dated Jan. 26, 2017.

Brugnoli’s bail was listed at $5,000 for shoplifting third offense.

If convicted, he faces the mandatory penalty, which is paying the store’s owner not less than $50 or double the amount of stolen merchandise, whichever is greater; a fine of not less than $500 nor more than $5,000; and confinement in the state penitentiary for not less than one year and not more than 10 years.

In other non-related crime news, Jeremy Fincher, 42, of Buckhannon, was arrested for domestic battery and domestic assault Saturday, May 11.

According to the criminal complaint in the Upshur County Magistrate Clerk’s Office filed by Cpl. Darin Hissam with the Buckhannon Police Department, on Friday, May 10, Fincher allegedly struck the victim on the left side of her neck once with his hand after she ran down the street to get away from him.

The blow left slight red markings on her neck area, Hissam’s report says. This took place along Moore Avenue. According to the report, Fincher also displayed a pocket knife and threatened to kill the victim after she ran down the street to get away from him, and the victim told Hissam she’s afraid of Fincher, according to the complaint.

Bail has been set at $25,000.

If convicted, Fincher faces confinement in jail for not more than one year, a fine of not more than $500 or both on the domestic battery charge. He also faces confinement in jail for not more than six months, a fine of not more than $100 or both on the domestic assault charge.

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