A Dartmouth College professor was acquitted on charges of shoplifting two bottles of diet supplements from the Lebanon Food Co-Op Store that she said she accidentally placed in her purse.
Judge Lawrence MacLeod said Wednesday that prosecutors failed to prove that Vivian Kogan, 66, intended to steal the bottles, worth $65.90.
“You have to know you were concealing the stuff, and she clearly didn’t have the intent to do it,” Kogan’s lawyer, Bill Clauson, said afterward.
Kogan testified she was feeling ill on the evening of Feb. 6, but needed to pick up a few items before an approaching snowstorm hit. As she shopped the aisles, Kogan saw two bottles she thought could ease her ongoing heart condition.
Kogan testified that the medications she was taking lead to frequent loss of memory and an inability to concentrate. “I have never been so out of it,” she said. “I was extremely cognitively challenged.”
She grabbed the bottles off the shelf, but was unsure if she would buy them, so she sat them atop her large black handbag, which was unzipped, she said. There they sat harmlessly, until her nose started running.
Kogan testified she picked up the bottles so she could reach into her bag for tissues, but the bottles were too cumbersome, so she dropped them in her purse and grabbed the tissue. She then zipped the bag shut, a point that Lebanon police prosecutor Matthew Isham said suggested Kogan intended to steal the bottles.
Kogan said she was unaware that a loss prevention officer, Joshua Peabody, watched from 3 feet away as Kogan put the bottles in her bag. When she left the store, Peabody confronted her, asked that she go back inside and called police.
Kogan, a tenured French and Italian professor who has taught at the college since the 1960s, asked if she could pay for the items, but the Co-Op declined.
She was charged with shoplifting, a misdemeanor.
Information from: Lebanon Valley News, http://www.vnews.com
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