Area Man’s Conviction for Theft of Star Wars Lego Kits Confirmed by State Superior Court

HARRISBURG, Pa. (EYT) – A Knox man’s conviction on three counts of retail theft and his associated prison sentence have been confirmed by the state superior court.

According to a Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Superior Court opinion, judgment of sentence imposed on 42-year-old Ruben James Dunkle, of Knox, following his conviction of three counts of retail theft was affirmed on Tuesday.

The court rejected the Dunkle’s appeal of the convictions and his two and a half to seven and a half year prison sentence.

According to the court opinion, the facts of the case state Dunkle went to Walmart on three consecutive days, October 4, 5, and 6, 2017, and selected expensive Lego Star Wars kits from the toy department, then modified the bar codes on the products in a manner that caused them to reflect a different Lego Star Wars product with a much lower price.

He then used the self-checkout to scan and pay for the items without assistance from a store clerk.

Following an unexplained reduction in inventory, Walmart conducted an internal investigation that revealed the underpayments by Dunkle.

The case went to trial on March 29, 2019. A Walmart Asset Protection Officer testified regarding the internal investigation and introduced receipts from the transactions, as well as photos of some of the items.

The Walmart Asset Protection Officer testified there was no type of malfunction with the self-checkout system on any of the dates in question, nor was he aware of any problem with the bar codes placed on the more expensive Lego products by the manufacturer.

The officer also indicated in his testimony that the only way that the more expensive Lego items could have scanned as less expensive Lego items was by placing a small Lego box bar code on the large Lego boxes.

A jury convicted Dunkle of one third-degree felony count of felony theft and two first-degree misdemeanor counts of retail theft on April 1, 2019. Then on April 29, 2019, President Judge James G. Arner sentenced him to an aggregate term of thirty to ninety months in prison on the charges.

Dunkle filed a post-sentence motion on May 1, 2019, and the motion was denied on May 6. He then filed a notice of appeal to the Superior Court on June 3, 2019.

The issue of the appeal was whether or not sufficient evidence existed to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.

According to the court opinion, the evidence presented at trial was sufficient to support the jury’s finding that all elements of the offense of retail theft were proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

The opinion also states that the mass of circumstantial evidence produced by the Commonwealth, when considered collectively, was legally sufficient to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dunkle committed retail theft.

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