Theft Suspect Gets A Second Chance


A teenager has been given a second chance by the system. One of the reasons for the break, according to prosecutors, his mother turned him in shortly after last year's pawn shop robbery in Council Bluffs.

By any definition, it was a violent robbery last November at Browns Loans pawn shop.

Three suspects -- all 18-years-old and younger -- had planned the robbery of handguns. They got away with 10 of them.

Alex Provencher, who was 16 at the time, pistol-whipped one of the employees. His step-brother, DeQuan White, broke the glass in the case holding the guns.

18-year-old James Smith was the lookout.

"There's sometimes a misconception with the public that the only thing prosecutors care about is sending people to prison," said Pottawattamie County Chief Deputy Attorney Jon Jacobmeier.

This month -- all three went before a judge.
Provencher and White pleaded guilty and were sentenced from 10-to-22 years in prison.

James Smith pleaded guilty to felony theft. He's not in jail. Why?

"He has consequences," said Jacobmeier, "But at the same time -- I feel he deserved a second chance."

Prosecutors gave Smith a break for a number of reasons: he never had a gun; he ran out of the pawn shop when the others ran in; he was willing to testify against the others.

And then there's this: "His mother turned him in to the pawn shop employees and said, 'I think my boy is involved.' That is amazing -- a mother making that decision."

James Smith is 19 now and living in Texas with his grandmother. Prosecutors say he's away from his bad influences and trying to start anew. "He'll be taken care of and get all the opportunities. Now whether or not he succeeds -- that is up to James. And to be honest -- this is his last chance."

Pottawattamie County District Court Judge Kathleen Kilnoski placed unique guidelines on Smith's probation.

He must get his GED -- and then work and/or go to school for 40-hours a week. If not -- he's violating his probation -- and would likely go to jail. "He has a felony on his conviction now," said Jacobmeier. "He'll live with that on his record. He's going to have to figure it out."


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