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Court date set for woman accused of stealing change from fountain

The case against a woman accused of stealing roughly $3 in change from a Bellefontaine fountain is set to go to trial in November.

Deidra Romine, 38, was issued a summons for theft earlier this month after a citizen complaint led to a response from police. She pleaded not guilty Wednesday in Bellefontaine Municipal Court. A trial date has been set for Nov. 25.

Romine is accused of stealing $2.87 from the fountain.

Romine didn’t answer several phone calls from the Springfield News-Sun and didn’t come to the door at her residence on Thursday. However, the Associated Press reported that she said she was out of work and in danger of losing her apartment. She said she needed money for food.

Police Chief Brandon Standley said the department has gotten emails about the case and he knows it’s been a topic of interest on social media.

“It’s tugged at the heartstrings of folks,” he said. “I understand that. But unfortunately we also have a job to do.”

Police said Romine wasn’t up front with officers when questioned about stealing from the fountain. According to a police report, a substantial amount of wet change was found in one of her pockets.

“It was pretty clear to me that if Miss Romine’s actions would have been a little bit more forthcoming, I think we would have ended up in another result instead of her having to go to court,” Standley said.

The change, according to Standley, became city property the moment it was thrown into the water.

“It’s an interesting issue because a lot of folks may not have thought that process through,” Standley said. “From our standpoint, it’s a city-owned fountain and it collects coins year-round when there’s water in it and then it’s cleaned out when the winter season comes.

“There are a lot of desperate folks out there who are forced to make bad decisions,” Standley said. “I think that’s what happened in this case.”

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