Toussain Puddie, the former TSA screener who grabbed car dealer Rick Case's Montblanc pen at the airport last June, has been facing third-degree Grand Theft charges for months. We published a feature story on the case in December.
Now Leland Garvin, Puddie's lawyer, tells the Pulp that prosecutors informed him that their previous offer of pretrial intervention, rather than a jury trial, had been taken off the table because Puddie had taken too long to accept it.
Garvin says that he and Puddie entered a hearing last week with the intent to accept the state's previous offer, which would have given Puddie the chance to have his record cleared if he admitted guilt, wrote a letter of apology to Case, and accepted a year of probation.
But in the hallway later that day, a prosecutor stopped Garvin and informed him that the offer was off the table.
At a hearing earlier this week, the prosecutors confirmed that news. Puddie had been on the fence about accepting the offer, according to Garvin. His parents were urging him to accept it, but he had been leaning toward a jury trial for much of the time since he first contacted Garvin.
"I think this will make the decision that he's always wanted to make easier for him," says Garvin, referring to Puddie's past desire for a trial. Still, he says, if the offer were still available, Puddie would probably accept it.
Now Garvin plans to speak with Jeff Marcus, chief felony prosecutor, to confirm that the offer is indeed void. If so, he'll send a subpoena to Rick Case -- who, as the pen's owner, would be a key witness in a trial.
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The theft charge carries a maximum sentence of five years, but Garvin hopes that the judge, David Haimes, would consider a lighter punishment if Puddie were found guilty, because of his lack of a criminal record.
The next hearing is scheduled for late May.