Shoplifter who targeted Target stores gets 3-23 months

Posted: July 19, 2014

The prosecutor called David Gentile a "serial shoplifter," an unrepentant thief who over nine months last year struck Target stores in four counties, pilfering only high-end Texas Instrument graphing calculators.

Gentile's lawyer laughed at that, calling her 35-year-old client a "completely unsuccessful criminal," a drug addict who couldn't help but get arrested.

Both descriptions may be apt, but Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Frank Palumbo's sentence - three to 23 months in prison followed by three years' reporting probation - satisfied neither side.

Assistant District Attorney Mark Gilson did not get the three to six years he asked for, but Palumbo agreed to make his sentence consecutive to Gentile's one- to five-year term from Montgomery County.

Defense attorney Nicole Cross did not get the probationary sentence she wanted.

Gentile's unusual crime spree was possible because the crime - shoplifting - is considered so minor that people arrested are usually released with little or no bail. In Gentile's case, according to court records, every time he got out he targeted another Target.

Gentile's first arrest for a Target shoplifting was April 5, 2013, in Bucks County. He was released on bail and three days later was arrested again in Bucks. He was released on bail and on May 4, 2013, was again arrested in Bucks County and, once again, released on bail.

In each case, according to court documents, Gentile went into the Target with a box cutter and simply cut the calculators - they retail for $125 to $150 - from their plastic shells, leaving the empty package on its locked security peg.

And so it went - arrest after arrest, bail after bail, bench warrant after bench warrant - through Bucks, Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Delaware Counties until his last arrest, on Nov. 20 at the Target in Springfield, Delaware County.

By this time, Gilson said, Gentile had five open cases in Philadelphia, Montgomery, and Bucks Counties and was on probation in Bucks.

He has been in custody since January, and Gilson said Gentile still faced sentencing in Bucks for violating his probation by getting arrested again.

"A few months in jail and probation for this defendant will not work; it will not deter him," Gilson told the judge. "If you don't take this seriously, he won't take it seriously."

Cross argued that Gentile had no criminal record before age 34, worked as a laborer, and was a father. She said he got addicted to prescription narcotics while recuperating from an injured knee and then began snorting heroin.

"This is no monster," Cross added. "This is a guy who screwed up because of drugs."

Cross said Gentile becomes eligible for parole on the Montgomery County sentence in November, is undergoing drug treatment in prison, and has a job and place to live when he gets out. Gentile's mother and sister were in court to show support.

Gentile, who regularly wiped away tears during the hearing, apologized to Palumbo: "I was a scumbag for six months, and I take responsibility for all that I did."


jslobodzian@phillynews.com

215-854-2985 @joeslobo

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