PROVO A Utah corrections officer accused of pocketing a mislaid wallet in a grocery store was charged Monday with felony theft.
Rick J. Nichols, 48, who is on paid administrative leave from his job as a correctional officer at the Utah State Prison, was arrested June 6 after an investigation into the missing wallet and images from a surveillance camera led to his arrest by Saratoga Springs police officers.
The Eagle Mountain man is facing a third-degree felony charge of theft of mislaid property, although officials say he later returned it.
"He did the reasonable and prudent thing to return the billfold and the money," said Nichols' attorney, Matthew Brimley.
During a first appearance Monday morning in 4th District Court, Brimley asked Judge Lynn Davis for help getting some of Nichols' personal things back.
Apparently Nichols' wallet, day planner and cell phone are still with Saratoga Springs police or at the jail, although neither Davis nor prosecutor Jason Sant knew why there would have been a need to keep them as they're not considered evidence.
"Those items ought to be returned," Davis said. "Find out where they are and get them released."
About two weeks ago, a woman called police to report that she had been shopping at several places and then discovered she was missing her wallet.
She said she remembered leaving it on a drink stand at Smith's in Saratoga Springs, but she called the store and they couldn't find it, said Saratoga Springs Police Chief Gary Hicken.
That same day, an employee at the Albertsons in Lehi found the empty wallet while emptying a post-office box, Hicken said.
The wallet was missing $1,140 in cash the woman was carrying to pay for an upcoming surgery.
After reviewing the surveillance footage from Smith's, police saw a uniformed man walk by the drink station and pick up the wallet, Hicken said.
After contacting several police agencies, they identified the man as Nichols, who came into the station on his own hours later to turn in the money, Hicken said.Nichols will be in court again June 27 in American Fork.
Contributing: James Davis