SAN DIEGO (CNS) - A 28-year-old man who allegedly snatched a cash box from a Girl Scout selling cookies in front of a Clairemont grocery store pleaded not guilty to a variety of charges today.
A prosecutor told the judge that the theft was just one part of a two- day spree that involved identity theft and drug use.
On Saturday, Erik Mullen stole a purse from a woman at a restaurant, and an alleged accomplice named Brandi Wright later cashed a check from the purse at a Moneytree store, according to Deputy District Attorney Kimball Denton.
Wright tried to cash a check the next day at another Moneytree, but the teller became suspicious and declined, Denton said.
She said Mullen later "took advantage of an easy theft opportunity'' by grabbing a cash box containing cookie proceeds from a sales table set up by a girl and her mother.
That was outside a Vons store in the Clairemont Town Square shopping center on Clairemont Drive around 3 p.m. Sunday.
He allegedly dropped his cellphone as he fled.
The victims told reporters there had been more than $400 in the box that was taken.
The Girl Scout who was victimized, Leyla Hayward, told 10News, "After he gets out, I hope he has a good life and learned his lesson not to steal or do any other bad stuff."
Mullen is facing a pair of misdemeanor petty theft charges for allegedly taking the purse and the cash box.
"In the investigation, we learned that they used the money to buy heroin on Craigslist,'' Denton said.
Additionally, both he and Wright face seven felony identity theft charges, according to the prosecutor.
She said Mullen, an office manager at a flooring company, and Wright don't have prior records.
He would face three-and-a-half years behind bars if convicted, while the female defendant would be looking at three years.
Judge Kathleen Lewis set bail at $20,000 each.