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Former Salem teacher to face new theft charges

BRENTWOOD - A former Salem teacher was ready to plead guilty to theft-related charges on Tuesday when he learned that he is about to be indicted on more charges by a grand jury later this month, according to his lawyer.

Stephen Pierce, 47, is facing a receiving stolen property charge for allegedly pawning roughly 40 pieces of jewelry worth about $33,000 from an Atkinson couple he was friends with, according to an indictment.

The thefts happened over the course of a year between March 2011 and last April, prosecutors said. Public defender Christine List did not say in court papers what kind of new charges Pierce will be facing, but police have acknowledged they have spent months scrutinizing records of area pawn shops.

Pierce, who taught eighth-grade at the Woodbury School in Salem, faces up to 7½ to 15 years in prison on his latest theft case. List said in court papers that she hopes to negotiate a global resolution to the case to include any new charges handed down by the grand jury.

Judge Marguerite Wageling agreed to delay the hearing so prosecutors and the defense can try to work out a new agreement.

Pierce's teaching career suddenly came to a halt in May, a month after a Nikon D60 camera disappeared from a school yearbook program. Pierce had stolen the camera and sold it to a local pawn shop. Salem police linked Pierce to the theft by reviewing pawnshop slips at the store. Pierce had to submit his driver's license to the pawnshop in order to sell the camera, and got $150 for it.

He pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor theft charge in circuit court and received a suspended seven-day jail sentence. More charges came after the Atkinson couple - who were friends of Pierce - saw that he pleaded guilty in the theft case and noticed some of their personal belongings around the house were missing, police said.

Pierce's new plea and sentencing date is April 23.

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