PITTSFIELD -- A city man had $30,000 in his pocket when he was allegedly caught shoplifting items worth $7 from a convenience store on Friday morning, according to police.
On Friday in Central Berkshire District Court, Brent T. Leonesio, 35, of West Street, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor third-offense shoplifting and was given $500 cash bail.
According to a Pittsfield Police probable cause report, a clerk at the Cumberland Farms store on First Street caught Leonesio stuffing a 16-ounce Coffee Mate drink into his pants.
The store clerk told police Leonesio had previously shoplifted from the store "several times" and that they even had his photograph on a wall alerting workers to be aware.
When they arrested Leonesio, they allegedly found a Naked Juice brand orange juice stuffed into the sleeve of his jacket, $30,311 in cash in his right front pocket and close to 500 various pills in three separate containers.
He told police the cash was student loan money that he keeps on him so he "doesn't get robbed" and that he was a sophomore at Berkshire Community College. He said he had a prescription for the pills, according to the report.
Police seized the money and the pills and may bring more charges, according to the prosecutor.
In court, Judge Fredric D. Rutberg did a double-take and asked the prosecutor to repeat the amount of money found on Leonesio.
"Thirty-thousand dollars, your honor," Assistant Berkshire District Attorney Daniel Hespeler repeated. He asked that $500 bail be set in the case citing the defendant's four-page criminal record. He has two previous shoplifting convictions from 2009 and 2001.
Leonesio lawyer, Dean R. Manuel, asked for less bail, telling the court that his client didn't have access to his money since it was locked up at the Pittsfield Police station.
There was a question on whether Leonesio could be given a court-appointed lawyer since he was found with such a large amount of cash on him. The defendant, according to the probation department, receives Social Security supplemental income.
"Someone should probably alert the Social Security administration about this," commented the judge.
The judge ordered Leonesio to pay $500 for a court-appointed lawyer. The standard fee for indigent defendants is $150. The judge said he would consider reducing the cost if Leonesio isn't allowed access to his money.
On Friday afternoon, the defendant's mother was attempting to bail her son out.
Leonesio is expected back in court for a pretrial hearing on April 12.