Gonzalez sentenced for stealing from woman after her death
The Stone County Prosecutors Office announced that Jothan Gonzalez, 37, of Galena, has been sentenced to four years in the Missouri Department of Corrections.
According to Prosecuting Attorney Matt Selby, on or about January 19, 2020, Ryan Burke reported that his mother, who lived in Kimberling City, had died. When he went to the home, he found that it had been trashed and his mother’s credit cards were missing.
Kimberling City Police officer, Caleb McCarty, met with Burke and went to the house. Burke told him that Gonzalez had been staying in the basement of his mother’s house and was helping her while she had been sick. Gonzalez was no longer there.
Kimberling City detective Robert Smigiel then took over the case. He obtained a subpoena through the prosecutor’s office for bank records for the woman who had died. He found that there had been ten transactions totaling more than $1,200 between January 19 and 24, including a purchase at Wal-Mart in Branson West. At Wal-Mart, the detective obtained video surveillance of the purchase showing Gonzalez walk through the store, pick up items, and then use what appeared to be a debit card to make the purchase. A copy of the receipt of the transactions verified that it was one of the stolen cards.
Detective Smigiel also followed up on a purchase made at King Food Saver in Branson West. Video on the date and time of a purchase made there also showed Gonzalez to be the one who made the purchase.
Smigiel filed his case with the prosecutor’s office, and felony stealing charges were filed with this information. The defendant was eventually taken into custody, and the case was set for trial in early 2021. However, the defendant failed to appear, and another warrant was issued for his arrest. He was recently arrested on the warrant, pled guilty, and sentenced to four years in prison on July 27, 2021, by Stone County Judge Alan Blankenship.
“I appreciate the work that Detective Smigiel did in putting this case together and giving us strong evidence to pursue a conviction,” said Selby. “To steal from and take advantage of a person who was trying to help the defendant out, particularly after she died, was really low, and the prison sentence was appropriate.”