A Casper man pleaded guilty in Natrona County District Court on Thursday to stealing a roommate’s safe, jewelry and around $5,000 in cash in November.
Kelly Bertagnole will likely receive three years of supervised probation for a single charge of felony theft, on 18 to 36 months of suspended prison time.
He told Judge Daniel Forgey on Thursday that he had taken a safe from his roommate’s closet without permission, but that he was trying to repair it after breaking it. According to Bertagnole, all the property had been returned before his arrest.
According to an affidavit in the case, Bertagnole had been renting a room in Casper for around three weeks when the man he was renting from found his safe missing from his bedroom closet on Nov. 13.
The safe reportedly contained two bottles of the man’s prescription medication, $5,000 in cash and around the same amount in jewelry, including a pair of diamond earrings and a gold watch with diamonds.
After the missing safe was reported to police, court documents state another roommate in the home found it in the trunk of his car after Bertagnole had borrowed it. The front plate, which was later found in a trash bag in Bertagnole’s bedroom, was broken off, wires were visible and there were several empty jewelry boxes inside according to police who logged the safe as evidence.
The victim also told police he had confronted Bertagnole about paying rent around that time, and he moved out of the home the day after the safe was found missing.
When the victim and another roommate went to the trailer where Bertagnole moved, they reportedly found some paperwork, medications and another lock box belonging to the victim. They told police they went back later hoping to confront him, but he refused to come outside and yelled at them to leave.
Text messages cited in the affidavit show the roommate accusing him of stealing the safe, money and jewelry. Bertagnole reportedly told him over text that he was “trying something” with the safe when the front broke, and that he intended to replace it with a brand new safe but the victim had noticed it was missing before he could.
A police search of the trailer later found a bank bag with the victim’s passport, identification, social security card and other legal documents.
Bertagnole appeared for his arraignment on Thursday via video from the Natrona County Detention Center, where he has been since being arrested on a warrant in March. He was expected to leave on bond following the hearing, and now awaits formal sentencing.
Follow city and crime reporter Ellen Gerst on Twitter at @ellengerst.