3 days after 50-count plea deal, transient strikes again ... with stolen wine bottle

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HOOKSETT - Just three days after a Somersworth transient accepted a no-jail-time plea deal on more than 50 charges that dated back six years she was arrested in Hooksett for allegedly stealing a bottle of wine from Market Basket and hitting a store employee with it after they confronted her in the parking lot.

Hooksett Police said in a statement that on Aug. 2 they went to the Market Basket on Market Drive in connection with a fight between a man and a woman, made contact with store employees and learned that Stephanie L MacDonald, 40, had allegedly walked out of the store without paying for a bottle of wine.

Police said that after the employee caught up with MacDonald they argued and she is alleged to have struck him with the bottle.

MacDonald, who reportedly admitted to taking the wine, was charged with robbery, willful concealment; obstructing government administration, assault and criminal threatening.

A Merrimack County Jail spokesman said today that MacDonald remains held there on no bail awaiting her next court appearance.

Stafford County Assistant Attorney Hannah Elizabeth Carlson, who prosecuted the case that ended with a plea deal, said the case is now in the hands of Strafford County drug court officials.

A hearing earlier this week at Strafford County Superior Court showed that Cynthia Robinson of the Strafford County Drug Court would be discussing MacDonald's possible termination from the drug court program, but that hasn't happened yet.

Carlson said today she was no longer involved in the case.

What vexed Velardi most is that he'd "tried for over a year and half to have her held accountable with jailtime" for her repeated offenses, he said.

"Most of these acts were committed while she was out on bail," he added.

Velardi, who was not immediately available today, said never in his career had he seen a case like this, calling it an "outlier."

He said he fought for jail time, but "constant judicial intervention" made it clear the court had no appetite for incarceration, instead seeking treatment options.

The 2015 case, which comprises 11 pages of plea dates, failures to appear, bail infractions and arrest warrants, was the oldest of the more than 50 complaints disposed of on July 30.

Many of the arrests were for minor infractions, Velardi agreed, but the sheer volume called for prison time, he said.

"Because she committed 50 crimes, at some point when thy commit that many crimes they become a danger to the community even though they aren't major crimes," he noted, adding the public should not have to continue to suffer from her bad acts.

Velardi stressed that he had no complaints about defense counsel saying they were just doing their job.

If anything he was disappointed with judges, several of whom have handled the case over the six years.

"I respect judges, but I do not agree with this outcome and the way they were handled by the court," he said.

In the years since 2015 she had been processed into Strafford County Jail some 27 times with stays anywhere between three and 77 days each, jail personnel said last month.

Velardi said fruition of the July 30 plea and sentencing, even though it included no additional jail time, still took roughly a year and a half of negotiations with defense counsel and the court.

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