Sentencing/Post Conviction

Man Who Stole Salvation Army Kettle Spends Night Homeless on Judge's Orders

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A man who stole a Salvation Army donation kettle containing $250 the week before Christmas was sentenced by a Cleveland-area judge to spend the night homeless.

Last Thursday, Painesville Municipal Court Judge Michael A. Cicconetti called Nathen Smith’s crime “despicable” and ordered the 28-year-old to spend the next 24 hours homeless or spend 90 days in jail, News-Herald reports.

Smith picked one sleepless cold night on the streets.

“I want you to feel what it’s like,” Cicconetti reportedly told Smith at sentencing. “You’re going to leave this courtroom, and you’re going to fend for yourself.”

The judge then ordered Smith to empty his pockets of everything except his identification so he would know what it’s like to have nothing.

“You figure out where you’re going to spend the night, you figure out where you’re going to eat, and you figure out how you’re going to stay warm, like they do,” Cicconetti is quoted saying.

Smith was outfitted with a GPS anklet and given probation office numbers to call in an emergency. His mother was allowed to give him a hooded sweatshirt and snow pants.

Smith was ordered to appear back in court at 11 a.m. Friday.

In a follow-up article, the News-Herald notes that Smith spent most of his time in and out of government buildings trying to keep warm.

He returned to court, “red-eyed, red-cheeked and unshaven” and his hands were “blood red from knuckle to tip,” the paper reports.

This isn’t the first time Judge Cicconetti has tried creative sentencing or ordered someone to spend the night outdoors. The Palladium-Item in Richmond, Ind., notes that Cicconetti once sentenced a 26-year-old to spend a night in the woods without food or shelter after she was convicted of abandoning 35 kittens. The judge reportedly relented and allowed shelter when temperatures dropped into the 20s.

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