A Murfreesboro husband and wife recently arrested for attempting to pull off a bogus robbery at the local E-Z Mart were sentenced Monday after pleading guilty to theft of property
Johnna M. O’Neal, 31, and Rodney R. O’Neal, 34, were both charged with theft for the March 24 incident. Mrs. O’Neal, who was employed as the store’s manager at the time, also faced felony charges of possession of drug paraphernalia and communicating a false alarm, but those charges were “nolle prossed” Monday in Pike County Circuit Court.
Mr. O’Neal was sentenced to six years in the Arkansas Department of Correction. Three years of his sentence were suspended and O’Neal was ordered to pay E-Z Mart back $863.95, with his wife’s help. In addition to paying restitution, Mrs. O’Neal was sentenced to five years of probation. Murfreesboro Police Chief Randy Lamb said Mr. O’Neal’s stiffer sentence was due to prior convictions in Texas and Florida.
The couple was arrested soon after the wife placed the 911 call to the Pike County Sheriff’s Department and said she had been robbed outside of the store. Mrs. O’Neal claimed the store deposits totaling more than $3,000 had been taken and the suspect, who she said pulled her from her vehicle and pushed her down, fled on foot toward Kelly Street.
After a saturation of the area came up empty, Chief Lamb returned to the scene and reviewed the store’s security video and “noticed some discrepancies in her statement and the video.” Mrs. O’Neal gave officers permission to search her vehicle and then her home on East 12th Street. It was at the home that Chief Lamb reported Mr. O’Neal led officers to $2,626 of the stolen money and three pipes used for smoking methamphetamine.
Mrs. O’Neal later confessed that she had met her husband at the car that day, gave him the money and then went inside and called 911.
Also Monday in Pike County court, Jason A. Cogburn, 32, of Glenwood, pleaded guilty to felony possession of drug paraphernalia. He was sentenced to five years of probation and fined $1,500.