Benton County Circuit Court Judge Locke Williams sentenced a Philomath woman on Wednesday to two years probation for stealing a $9,500 ring from a Corvallis jewelry store in June.
Melissa Kay Cox, 44, pleaded no contest to felony theft in the first degree. In addition to probation, she was sentenced to 60 hours community service.
As Cox was supposedly shopping for a wedding ring at Anderson’s Jewelers on June 25, she switched out a diamond ring valued at $9,500 with a cheap fake. Owner Mike Anderson was distracted by another customer when she left the store with the genuine ring.
Police identified Cox on surveillance footage in Anderson’s store as well as footage from the nearby U.S. Bank ATM surveillance camera. Before the theft, Cox withdrew cash from the ATM and bought a pair of gold earrings at the jewelry store.
Defense attorney Carla French reported that her client had a history as a victim of domestic violence, resulting in high anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. She needs mental health therapy, French said, but she can’t afford it.
When it was time for Cox to speak, she could barely be heard.
“I’m so sorry about what happened,” she said. “I’m very embarrassed and ashamed.”
She said it wasn’t her intention to steal the ring and once she had she was too embarrassed to bring it back.
Because of her limited criminal history, under state sentencing guidelines, the harshest sentence she could have received was 20 days in jail and two years probation. She has one prior conviction of misdemeanor theft from 1986.