CLEARFIELD – A Houtzdale man who stole money from an open cash register at a local dollar store pleaded guilty during sentencing court Wednesday.
Robert Stephen Gavlak II, 26, currently an inmate of the jail, pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking before Judge Paul E. Cherry.
Gavlak was sentenced to 30 days to one year in jail and three years consecutive probation. He was fined $300 and he must pay $205 in restitution. He was also ordered to complete a drug counseling program.
It was noted that Gavlak has served 60 days in jail already. His attorney, Thomas Dickey stated that Gavlak will pay the restitution in full within 30 days.
The charge stems from a December incident at the Dollar General store in Houtzdale when Gavlak reached past the clerk into a register and removed cash.
The criminal complaint details the incident beginning with a report to police that a person robbed the store before fleeing on foot. When officers viewed surveillance footage they could see the actor was wearing a black hooded sweatshirt with the hood up over a winter hat.
This male first paid for an item at the register, hung around and then went back to the register to purchase a small item. This time when the drawer opened, he dived across the register and removed cash.
The footage shows the cashier grabbing his arm with one hand and trying to shut the drawer with her other hand.
He said “let me in there or I’ll stab you,” she told police. After a while, the employee let go.
The man ran out of the store with only about $200, the report said. This sales clerk and a witness both identified Gavlak, who is a regular customer.
Three hours later Gavlak was taken into custody when he returned to his home.
During an interview with police, he confessed to committing the crime explaining he had a drug addiction. The money he stole he used to try to purchase drugs, he said.
In a phone call, District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. was questioned as to why Gavlak was not charged with robbery. Shaw stated that no one actually saw Gavlak with a knife. Also, the money was removed from the register and not given to him by the clerk.