The Romanian man who stole a $7,500 bottle of scotch from a Jackson liquor store by hiding it in his crotch has been sentenced to probation.
Jackson Circuit Court Judge Curt Haws sentenced Marian Firu, 50, to six months of unsupervised probation, according to a court filing that became available this week.
Firu faces a possible 179 days in jail if he violates his probation, according to the judgment and sentence filing.
The incident became a national story due to Firu’s unique method of theft and the cost of the bottle of booze.
On Nov. 2, surveillance captured the man removing the $7,449 bottle of Dalmore 35 Year Scotch from the shelf and concealing it in the crotch area of his pants before leaving the store.
About three weeks after the theft, a pregnant Jackson Police Department officer who was familiar with the case spotted Firu panhandling at an intersection in town. He was arrested shortly after being spotted.
Why So Expensive
Although $7,500 may seem like a lot to the average drinker, Wyoming’s preeminent booze expert says it’s really not.
Mike Moser, executive director of the Wyoming State Liquor Association, said “bottles of browns” of whisky and scotch going for thousands of dollars, and even tens of thousands of dollars, isn’t that unusual.
“The market is really crazy now, "Moser said. "Would I buy it? No. But there are plenty of people who will. People aren’t drinking as much as they used to do but when they do, it’s the better stuff.”
Moser said theft in liquor stores is a real problem now because of technology.
“Once you steal it, you can sell it in a heartbeat online,” he said. “Not legally, but there’s a big old black market out there for alcohol.”
He said there aren’t too many retail items that you can steal and then sell within a day. Not so with booze.
“Whether it’s bottom shelf rot gut or a $10,000 bottle of scotch, you can turn it around instantly,” he said.
“You steal a polo shirt, go find somebody to buy it, but if you steal a decent bottle of whisky, no problem,” Moser added.
The Teton County Attorney’s Office originally charged Firu with felony theft, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and $10,000 in fines.
But in light of Firu’s immigrant status and after collaborations between Firu’s public defender Elisabeth Trefonas, prosecutors and The Liquor Store, the court accepted a charge reduction to misdemeanor theft.
“A misdemeanor would protect Mr. Firu’s current and pending asylum application,” said Trefonas in a January court hearing. “It would qualify as a petty offense exemption under the Immigration Act.”
Terms Of Probation
Other terms of his probation stipulate that he must lead a “worthy and honorable life” free of law-breaking other than minor traffic violations. Firu is not to consume alcohol or drugs nor associate with people consuming illegal substances.
Another man, Isac Firu, posted Marian Firu’s $7,500 bond after Firu spent one day in jail, the document indicates.
The court restored $3,280 of that to Isac Firu, but allocated $4,000 of the bond to The Liquor Store as restitution. Another $150 of the bond went to the state’s crime victim’s compensation fund, and $70 went to court costs.
Marian Firu did not reimburse the state for public defender fees after the court found him unable to pay them.
A spokesman for The Liquor Store told Cowboy State Daily on Thursday that the establishment has tightened its security measures and updated its policies since the incident.
The spokesman declined to comment on receiving roughly half the bottle’s value in restitution.