Who says the holiday spirit is gone?
Authorities on Monday agreed to give a Pompton Lakes man a chance to mend his Grinchy ways.
Thomas Carman, 25, whose Christmas Caper was foiled last month when a new security camera recorded him absconding with a six-foot-tall Toy Soldier from the Morristown Green, was allowed to apply for probation.
If he completes the program, called pre-trial intervention, or P.T.I, without any further infractions, the state may dismiss Carman’s theft charge, according to Carman’s lawyer, Harley Breite.
Theft is a third-degree offense that carries up to five years of jail time upon conviction, the lawyer said.
Breite described his client as a “hard-working family man” with an otherwise clean record, who regrets what demon alcohol emboldened him to do at 1 a.m. on Dec. 9, 2018.
“It was a spontaneous event which occurred as a result of his intoxication and poor judgment,” Breite said, after Morris County Assistant Prosecutor Sean Gaynor told Superior Court Judge Stephen Taylor he had no objection to Carman seeking P.T.I.
Carman, dressed in a light blue suit, did not speak in court except to acknowledge his desire to apply for probation.
After Morristown Green posted the security video last month, which showed a flannel-shirted man carrying off the $1,200 soldier, Carman returned the holiday statue to Morristown police.
Although Carman did not intentionally inflict any damage to the object, Breite said, his client “will gladly pay any and all restitution to restore the statue to its original form.”
Officials of the Morristown Partnership, which hosts the annual Christmas Festival at the Morristown Green, could not immediately be reached for comment on Monday.
Pre-trial intervention is for first-time offenders, and may include rehabilitation services.
The probationary period can range from one- to three years, according to this legal website.
Alice Cutler, president of the Trustees of the Green, the organization that installed security cameras above the historic square, said leniency sounds appropriate in this instance.
“If it was just something he did in a moment of stupidity, and he he doesn’t have a record, he should be given extra consideration,” Cutler said of Carman.
And, she added, “if he needs to do community service, we can certainly put him to work on the Green,” pruning hedges and cleaning up cigarette butts.