Theft of cheese could be felon’s last crime

  • Wed Feb 10th, 2010 10:26pm
  • News

Sacramento Bee

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A man who put cheese down his trousers faces a life sentence when he goes before a judge next month.

Jurors convicted Robert Preston Ferguson of two counts of petty theft on Jan. 6.

One conviction was for swiping a woman’s wallet from a convenience store counter. The other was for stealing $3.99 worth of shredded cheese from the Nugget Market in Woodland.

Officers testified that Ferguson put the cheese in his pants and was apprehended in the parking lot.

Because of a lengthy criminal history that dates back 35 years, including six first-degree burglary convictions, Yolo County prosecutors charged the petty theft counts as felonies. They say 22 years in prison failed to teach Ferguson, who is in his 50s, to obey the law.

Now they’re asking a judge to give Ferguson a life sentence under the state’s “three-strikes” law when he comes back to court March 1.

“Holding the defendant fully accountable will protect society from a repeat criminal offender,” prosecutor Clinton Parish’s motion says.

Defense lawyers have asked the judge to exclude Ferguson’s prior offenses in sentencing, saying that the man is mentally ill and has substance abuse problems.