Alleged $26 theft lands local man in custody

NASHUA – Justin Hall has a long, varied criminal record, a prosecutor said in court Thursday, but he’s also a graduate of Nashua’s Adult Drug Court – and while the new charge that landed him before a Superior Court judge is a felony, it does not seem as serious as some felonies.

Hall, 29, went before Judge Charles Temple Thursday after spending the night in jail, the result of his arrest on one count of theft for allegedly stealing a knee brace, medical tape, along with containers of foot ointment and Neosporin, from a Hannaford supermarket in Nashua.

The items, Hall’s attorney, Laura Maistrosky, told the court, amount to $26.46. That would typically warrant a Class A misdemeanor charge of theft, but the fact Hall has at least two prior convictions for theft makes this charge a so-called third strike, which raises it to a Class B felony.

The prosecutor, Assistant County Attorney Brett Harpster, asked Temple for $25,000 cash-only bail, an amount that appeared to baffle Maistrosky.

The items Hall allegedly stole “indicate an injury of some sort,” she told the court. “Is a $26 theft what our courts are looking to incarcerate people for?” she asked, rhetorically.

She said she agreed with Harpster’s suggestion Hall needs treatment, but said he also needs a short-term solution to start getting back on his feet.

“He’s been struggling since shortly after he graduated Drug Court,” Maistrosky said. “He’s lost his housing … he’s looking to get back in treatment right away. Hall is “very emotional about this,” she added.

Hall, if released from jail, would pose no danger to anyone, Maistrosky continued in asking for personal recognizance bail. “Certainly, the charge he faces today does not warrant $25,000 bail.”

Harpster, meanwhile, said he was basing his high-bail recommendation in large part on Hall’s long record of arrests and convictions.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Hall continues to keep getting arrested time and time again,” Harpster said. He read off a list of more than two dozen entries in Hall’s record, a mix of misdemeanors and felonies that go back to 2008 and range from multiple drug-related offenses and theft to credit card fraud, criminal trespass, receiving stolen property and theft by deception, according to Harpster.

He is currently out on bail on five separate charges, Harpster added.

Agreeing that “the pending charge is not serious,” Harpster said he feels his bail request is appropriate. “Enough is enough,” he said.

Temple said he agreed with Maistrosky that the alleged $26 charge is minor, but it is apparent “his life is spiraling out of control at this point.”

Addressing Hall, he noted the five separate bail orders currently pending. “You have no ability at this point to follow bail orders,” Temple said.

He agreed to amend Hall’s bail to $1,000 cash-only, and said he would consider modifying it to personal recognizance if Hall was admitted into a substance use disorder treatment program.

Hall is also ordered to have no contact with the supermarket and to remain on good behavior.

Dean Shalhoup may be reached at 594-1256, dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com or @Telegraph_DeanS.