On Tuesday afternoon, a Davison County court ordered a man to spend three years in prison and pay nearly $12,000 in restitution for stealing merchandise from retailers across South Dakota.
As part of a plea agreement between the counties involved, 34-year-old Michael Coppola, of Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, was only sentenced to prison time for two Davison County cases but will pay restitution to three stores in Mitchell, two in Belle Fourche, two in Aberdeen and one in Huron.
Davison County State's Attorney Jim Miskimins indicated prior to sentencing that Coppola still has theft cases pending in Minnehaha, Pennington and Lawrence counties.
"I know I made a lot of bad choices over a relatively short period of time," Coppola said, acknowledging he knew he had done damage but had not done it with malevolence. "...I'm just ready to own it and do my time and pick up the pieces of my life and put them back together."
Coppola pleaded guilty on Nov. 12 to grand theft charges filed in two cases. For theft from Cabela's, Coppola was sentenced to two years in prison, and he was sentenced concurrently to 10 years with seven years suspended for theft from the seven other stores. He will be given credit toward both sentences for 91 days spent in jail.
Miskimins said Coppola put high-priced items into boxes that had contained cheaper merchandise in order to commit theft.
"You have so much potential. You're intelligent. You're articulate. You have a four-year college degree," Judge Chris Giles said Tuesday. "...But what concerns me is, you've basically turned into a professional thief."
Coppola was ordered to pay $4,213.59 to Walmart in Mitchell, $1,726 to Menards in Aberdeen, $1,551.44 to Hobby Lobby in Aberdeen, $1,277.68 to Cabela's in Mitchell, $1,000 to Menards in Mitchell, $919.43 to Walmart in Huron, $603 to Runnings in Belle Fourche and $708.97 to Lynn's Dakotamart in Belle Fourche, as well as $113 in court costs, $65.07 to Davison County for transcript fees and court-appointed attorney's fees.
Giles indicated the stolen merchandise now in the custody of law enforcement can be sold for money to be put toward Coppola's restitution.