Former deputy pleads guilty to theft scheme; placed on probation

CHESTERTOWN — A former Kent County deputy must pay restitution of $251.73 to the Chestertown grocery store that he victimized over the period of about three weeks in 2023.

Stuart M. Lodge on Monday in the District Court for Kent County pleaded guilty to conducting a theft scheme, $100 to less than $1,500.

The remaining charges against the 45-year-old Chestertown man — 18 counts of theft less than $100 — were dismissed.

Lodge was scheduled to stand trial Monday, June 17.

Instead, he pleaded guilty during a hearing in front of Judge James C. McKinney.

Lodge’s guilty verdict was stricken and the court granted probation before judgment.

He was placed on 24 months of supervised probation; probation may be abated after 12 months if there are no violations.

Special conditions of Lodge’s probation include that he not enter or be found near any Redner’s Market and that he not use any self-checkout operations at any retail establishments.

He is to pay full restitution to Redner’s Market by July 31.

On March 7, Lodge was served a summons outlining the charges against him.

He was accused of taking items from the Redner’s Market here without paying for them. This allegedly occurred on 18 different occasions in March and April 2023, sometimes more than once on the same day, according to the application for statement of charges.

The total value of the items was $251.73, according to the charging document.

At the time of the alleged offenses, Lodge was a captain with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office and was the patrol commander.

He had been with the KCSO since 2002.

According to the charging document, Sheriff Dennis Hickman was alerted to the allegations on April 21, 2023 in a phone call from Corey Deily, director of security for Redner’s Market in the Washington Square shopping center.

Deily related that a deputy with the Kent County Sheriff’s Office, subsequently identified as Lodge, “was observed to be stealing grocery items from the store,” according to the charging document.

Specifically, Lodge, using the self-checkout option, allegedly took items from the store without scanning them.

The store’s director of security provided investigators with a flash drive containing 18 videos of Lodge allegedly taking merchandise from the store since March 29, 2023.

According to the charging document, Lodge was in uniform sometimes.

Sometimes only one item was taken without being paid for.

On occasion, as many as three, four or five items were taken at one time without being paid for.

Lodge was initially suspended with pay on April 23, 2023.

According to the charging document, Lodge resigned on July 14.

Because Lodge was a police officer, a request was made that the Maryland State Police’s Criminal Enforcement Division-Northern Region take over the investigation.

A special prosecutor was assigned to the case.

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