By Joe Beck
A Front Royal man initially charged with 14 counts accusing him of burglarizing and stealing cargo from a Norfolk Southern Corp. freight train was sentenced to two years probation Tuesday in Warren County Circuit Court.
Michael Creed Smith, 21, of 824 W. 14th St., also will pay $327 in restitution after authorities said he had taken more than $1,600 in cargo from the train on April 5, 2012.
Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Bryan Layton said the restitution was much lower than the amount that Smith was alleged to have stolen because only a few owners of the stolen merchandise had filed claims with Norfolk Southern after Smith's arrest.
"That's all these cases submitted in claims," Layton said. "I would have expected it to be more."
The prosecution dropped nine counts against Smith, who entered an Alford plea of guilty to five counts of either larceny or burglary several months ago. Smith's sentence included a prison term of seven years that Judge Dennis L. Hupp suspended
Police said the stolen cargo they recovered during their investigation included a love seat valued at about $400; a water softener worth $400; three bottles of cooking oil valued at $48; two bar stools worth $270; three bags of rice worth $57; four gas edgers valued at $596.
The investigation began when a man reported finding stolen goods along the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks while walking his dog on April 6, 2012.
Police found similar items being sold online and contacted the seller to arrange a meeting at which they could examine the property. The online merchandise turned out to be the same items taken from the railroad.
Contact staff writer Joe Beck at 540-465-5137 ext. 142, or firstname.lastname@example.org