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Connecticut man enters plea under Alford Doctrine

A 38-year-old Connecticut man accused of one of the highest value watch thefts in American history brought the case to a close after he entered a guilty plea on July 8. The man pled guilty to charges of conspiracy to commit first-degree larceny and will be sentenced to six years in prison on Sept. 19. The 38-year-old was accused of stealing watches from Victorinox Swiss Army, valued in excess of $1 million.

According to reports, the Stratford man was employed by Victorinox Swiss Army as the manager of the watch repair department at the Monroe headquarters. The alleged thefts were reported to police by officials at Victorinox in October 2011, and the man is believed to have smuggled 644 watches over the course of more than a year through the company's mail room. One of the watches was reported to be valued at more than $20,000. A mail room employee told police that the man had been forwarding packages to the room and then picking them up at a later time.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation was involved with the Monroe Police Department in the investigations preceding the man's arrest, and several of the watches were reportedly able to be traced to a Texas dealer claiming to have bought the watches online. According to authorities, the watches were sold on eBay by the owners of a pool hall and barbershop in Stratford. Police believe the barbershops owners met the 38-year-old at a party, and the two are still awaiting trial for their alleged involvement.

Because the 38-year-old pleaded guilty under the Alford Doctrine, the plea allows him to concede that there is enough evidence to convict him in a trial while still refusing to admit guilt. This type of plea deal is one of several criminal defense options those accused of similar crimes may have available. It is important, however, that defendants clearly understand all possible outcomes from each choice, as pleading guilty to crimes can have lifelong repercussions even after any jail time has been served.

Source: CT Post, "Stratford man pleads to $1M watch theft" Daniel Tepfer, Jul. 09, 2014

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