Couple face further court action in theft

After hearing more than an hour of testimony from the victim and the lead investigator, a judge ruled Tuesday there was sufficient evidence to hold Justin M. Stugart, 33, and his 31-year-old wife, Rochelle, on charges of allegedly stealing nearly $40,000 from Stugart’s elderly grandmother.

The ruling by District Judge Christian Frey means the Stugarts, of 321 Louisa St., each face further court action on felony charges of burglary, theft, receiving stolen property, trespassing and conspiracy.

City police Agent Raymond O. Kontz III alleges the two conspired together to steal the money from Lucille Buchta’s home back on Aug. 24, 2014, when the two and their six children visited her house in near Second and Maynard streets.

Kontz alleges Rochelle intentionally kept Buchta occupied with conversation on her front porch while the grandson was inside the home grabbing up large sums of cash from Buchta’s safe in her bedroom.

It wasn’t until four days later, Aug. 28, that the woman discovered the money missing when she went to the safe to get cash to pay a veterinary bill.

Buchta called her grandson and told him to come to the house immediately, according to Kontz.

When he arrived at the house, Justin was upset and sobbing.

He got on his knees and “begged Buchta to forgive him for taking her money,” according to what Kontz reported in an affidavit.

Justin claimed he took only $1,200, Kontz said.

Initially jailed following their arraignment, the couple remain free on $35,000 bail each.