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Suspected River Falls package thieves charged

ELLSWORTH—A River Falls couple appeared in court this month on allegations they drove around the city stealing deliveries off doorsteps until police stopped them near their home where a small cache of drugs was found.

The Pierce County Attorney's Office charged Samuel E. Pascenti, 36, and Lindsay E. Porter, 38, with five counts each of misdemeanor theft, along with felony methamphetamine possession. They both pleaded not guilty at a Dec. 14 court hearing.

According to the charging document:

River Falls police took a package report theft Nov. 17 in the 400 block of South Wasson Lane, where a black GMC Yukon was seen occupied by a man and a woman.

The man was seen swiping a package from a home, while the woman waited for him behind the wheel.

The complainant provided a partial license plate along with the vehicle description, which officers learned matched a vehicle belonging to Porter, who was on probation for a burglary conviction.

An officer made his way to her 1450 S. Wasson Lane home and saw an SUV matching the suspect vehicle's description turning into the trailer park.

The officer conducted a traffic stop and found Porter behind the wheel and a man later identified as Pascenti — who matched the thief's description — as the passenger. The couple's 1-year-old son was in the backseat.

The officer told the couple why they were stopped and spotted bubble wrap and a new shoe box in the front seat area.

They first denied involvement but later admitted to stealing the packages — and that the stolen belongings were in the backseat near the baby.

The officer took two knives off Pascenti, who was found to be on probation for meth possession, and placed him in custody.

Police inventoried the stolen items in the vehicle, including:

• Razors, hair ties and swim goggles valued at $37 taken from 378 W. Park St.

• A box containing hay for a rabbit valued at $13 taken from 1750 Sorenson St.

• A package containing clothing valued at $150 taken from 805 Bartosh Lane.

• Children's bedsheets valued at $39 taken from 417 Kennedy St. Pascenti admitted to dumping other bedsheets from the delivery in a dumpster on Johnson Street.

• A box containing a shoe rack valued at $30 from 1752 Rodao Drive.

• A pair of women's boots valued at $80 taken from an unknown location.

• A coffee mug and whiskey keg valued at $46 taken from an unknown location.

Based on the amount of stolen items, police asked Porter if they could search their house for more. She agreed to the search, provided she could accompany officers.

The search didn't turn up any more stolen items, but police found two suspicious safes in the house, along with some meth. Porter said one safe belonged to her, the other to Pascenti; both eventually gave police the digital combinations to open the safes.

Porter later told police she and Pascenti had turned to selling drugs amid fears they would be losing their home. She said they went on the package-theft spree because they were looking for a birthday present for their son.

"She stated after they stole the first one, she thought it seemed so easy and they just kept looking for packages," the complaint states.

Her safe contained $175 and 43 grams of suspected meth. Pascenti's safe contained about 26 grams of suspected meth, a scale, suspected drug notes and paraphernalia.

Pascenti and Porter return to court Feb. 13 for a pretrial conference.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

(715) 426-1072
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