Man pleads in meat theft, wants out of jail

LISBON — An East Liverpool man pleaded no contest to stealing meat from the Lisbon Sparkle Market, while telling Columbiana County Municipal Court Judge Mark Frost he needed out of jail to make arrangements for his teenage children.

James L. Cunningham Jr., 35, Dresden Avenue, East Liverpool, said he was agreeing to the plea agreement, which allows him to get out of jail in 11 days. Cunningham said he needs to get out of jail because he has a pending case in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court, where he has a jury trial in a couple of weeks. He wanted some time between serving the jail sentence for this theft and the scheduled trial in order to make custody arrangements for his children.

Frost asked Cunningham who was looking after his children, ages 15 and 13 at the time of the hearing, and Cunningham responded he did not know, but believed they may be going back and forth to his mother’s at this point, but that the children’s own mother had abandoned them.

For the theft, Frost credited Cunningham with 19 days served, sentenced him to 180 days, but suspended 160. He also fined him $250 and ordered him to make $150 in restitution to the Lisbon Sparkle Market, along with co-defendant Alicia Rogenski, 30, Hillcrest Road, Wellsville. Rogenski pleaded guilty to the theft charge back in March, when the charges were filed.

Cunningham said it was Rogenski, who was shoplifting the meat from the store, and he was driving her there that day. Tom Darcy of Sparkle, not knowing who the two people were stealing from the store, posted photos from the video surveillance around the store and the Lisbon area, asking for anyone to help identify them after the theft occurred.

Cunningham told Frost he has been doing things to turn his life around since he was shot in the knee back in January at Rogenski’s Hillcrest Road home. At that point, Cunningham said he decided to get his act together and gained custody of his children.

“I’m not questioning that you have done things to turn your life around,” Frost said, “but you still have to pay for the things that you did before that.”

Cunningham has a jury trial scheduled on Jan. 17 in Columbiana County Common Pleas Court on a fifth-degree felony theft charge. The charge claims he and two co-defendants entered the JWB Supply, distracting the employee while concealing and taking DeWalt products on May 8.

Additionally, his co-defendant, Rogenski is scheduled to be sentenced for murder and aggravated robbery on Jan. 5 in Common Pleas Court. Rogenski and her co-defendant in that case, Terry Brown, were charged in the shooting death of Scottie Johnson in March.