Another indictment for former Salem teacher
BRENTWOOD - A former Salem teacher has been indicted on a new charge of receiving stolen property for allegedly pawning jewelry that didn't belong to him on Christmas Eve in 2011, according to indictments.
Stephen Pierce, 47, is expected to be arraigned on the new charge today in Rockingham County Superior Court as his lawyer works toward a possible plea deal that will resolve his two pending theft cases.
Pierce was an eighth-grade teacher at Woodbury School in Salem when he was charged in May with stealing a Nikon D60 camera from a school yearbook program weeks earlier. That case resulted in a misdemeanor conviction and a suspended jail sentence but set off a wider investigation into an alleged pattern of pawning stolen goods.
Police said they discovered that Pierce pawned about 40 pieces of jewelry belonging to an Atkinson couple worth roughly $33,000.
The thefts happened over the course of a year, between March 2011 and last April, prosecutors said. The latest indictment against Pierce offers few details about the new case against him, but indicates it involves another victim and that he allegedly pawned more than $1,500 of her jewelry at a store in Salem.
Pierce was expected to plead guilty to a receiving stolen property charge earlier this month until he learned he was about to be indicted on another felony charge.
Public defender Christine List asked a judge to reschedule her client's plea hearing so she and prosecutors could work on a possible plea deal. Judge Marguerite Wageling agreed to delay, setting a plea and sentencing date for April 23.
Salem police said they linked Pierce to the thefts by reviewing slips at local pawn shops. Pierce had to submit his driver's license to the pawn shop in order to sell the items, police said.
After he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge for stealing the school camera, the Atkinson couple - who were friends of Pierce - noticed some of their personal belongings around the house were missing, police said.