Ex-Mayor Cleared on Petty Theft Charge
A jury Friday night found former Cleveland Mayor Carl B. Stokes innocent of a petty theft charge for taking a $17.25 bag of dog food from a store without paying.
The eight-member jury deliberated for about three hours before returning with the verdict.
Stokes, now a Cleveland municipal judge, testified in his own defense Friday that he had always intended to pay for the dog food.
After the verdict was read, Stokes rose from his seat in the courtroom to the cheers of family and friends in the courtroom gallery. He smiled broadly while accepting handshakes.
Stokes, 62, said he twice entered a pet store the morning of June 2 through a rear door and asked two dog groomers about buying dog food for his Rottweiler, Max. Each time they said the store’s regular employees had not yet arrived for the day, Stokes testified.
“I said, ‘The hell with it, I’ll get a bag of dog food and come back and pay for it in the afternoon’,” Stokes said.
He said he was in a hurry to drive to downtown Cleveland for three morning appointments.
Five hours later, Stokes said, he returned to the store with the intention of paying for the dog food but sensed hostility from two regular employees he had known from past shopping trips to the store.
“I really didn’t feel safe,” said Stokes. He concluded that “they think I stole it.”