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Romanian man sentenced for gift card theft

Through an interpreter, a Romanian man pleaded guilty Thursday, May 25, to his role in the theft of $1,000 in prepaid gift cards from a Cranberry Township grocery store, and was sentenced to serve up to three months in jail.

In a plea agreement, Huliu Cocarica, 30, pleaded guilty to felony charges of retail theft and conspiracy to commit retail theft filed by Cranberry Township police following the Sept. 19, 2022, theft from Shop ‘n Save.

Common Pleas Court Judge Timothy McCune accepted the agreement, and sentenced Cocarica to time served to three months in the county prison and pay $1,000 in restitution for the retail theft charge. No further penalty was given for the conspiracy charge.

In addition to the two charges he pleaded guilty to, Cocarica was initially charged with 10 misdemeanor charges of conspiracy to possess an access device and 10 counts possession of an access device.

Two co-defendants, Lamaita Sava, 56, of Pennsylvania, and Riccardo Sava, 22, of Flushing, N.Y., are facing four felony charges, but they haven’t been arrested.

The three men entered the store at 10 p.m. and told a cashier they wanted to buy $1,000 worth of prepaid Visa gift cards, according to complaints filed by police. The cashier activated the cards and counted the money that Cocarica provided her.

The cashier told Cocarica that he did not give her enough money to complete the purchase and handed the money back to him.

Lamaita Sava handed a bag of gift cards to the cashier, and Cocarica told the cashier they were leaving the store to get more money from an ATM, police said.

However, the cards returned to the cashier were not the cards that the cashier activated, police said.

Defense attorney Steven Toprani told McCune that Cocarica is facing similar charges in other jurisdictions and is facing federal charges for entering the country illegally.

He said similar charges were filed against Cocarica in Monroe County. State court records do not list a case against him in that county.

Court records reveal that Cocarica was sentenced in November last year to serve a year of probation in Mercer County after pleading guilty to a charge of theft by deception filed by Hermitage police.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement is holding him pending the outcome of deportation proceedings, Toprani said. Cocarica is being held in the Beaver County Prison.

Lamaita Sava is facing theft charges in Beaver and Mercer counties.

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