Candy theft could mean king-size sentence: 20 years to life

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A Louisiana man accused of stuffing $31 worth of candy bars into his pockets faces a possible sentence of 20 years to life in prison, prompting a judge to question whether the sentence was “over the top.”

Orleans Parish prosecutors chose to charge Jacobia Grimes, 34, under a statute that boosts the alleged candy theft to a felony. The law applies to people who have been convicted of “theft of goods” at least twice. Grimes has five prior theft convictions, making him a “quad” offender under the state’s habitual-offender law.

Grimes, 34, pleaded not guilty Thursday, The New Orleans Advocate ( reported.

The possible sentence raised questions with Judge Franz Zibilich, who was overseeing Grimes’ arraignment last week.

“Isn’t this a little over the top?” Zibilich said. “Twenty years to life for a Snickers bar, or two or three or four.”

Grimes’ attorneys, Miles Swanson and Michael Kennedy, said his prior guilty pleas were for similar shoplifting attempts, including stealing from a Rite-Aid, Save-A-Center, Blockbuster Video, and Rouses grocery stores.

Swanson said all the thefts were for less than $500 worth of items. The last theft of socks and trousers from a Dollar General store got him a four-year sentence in 2010.

One of his lawyers said he could have been charged under a different statute than the habitual-offender law.

“They’re spending their time to lock someone up for years over $31 worth of candy,” Swanson said.

Grimes also faces a charge of drug paraphernalia possession. He is currently free on $5,000 bond, court records show. His lawyers say he has a heroin problem. Grimes also has convictions for possession with intent to sell fake drugs and obscenity, a crime committed while he was behind bars, the newspaper reported.

Christopher Bowman, a spokesman for the district attorney’s office, would not comment on the specifics of Grimes’ case, citing office policy. He emphasized that the alleged crime was considered a felony by the state.

The case appears to be an extreme example of a widespread practice in Louisiana, which criminal justice reform advocates say has one of the toughest habitual-offender laws in the country, the newspaper reported.


Information from: The New Orleans Advocate,

WNCT-TV 9 On Your Side provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s