ST. GEORGE — A complaint of a disorderly hotel guest refusing to pay for his breakfast Saturday morning led to an assault of two officers, the officers deploying a TASER on the guest, a trip to the hospital as well as the county jail and the discovery of a stolen Target shopping cart along with a variety of other stolen goods inside the guest’s hotel room.
Around 7 a.m. Saturday, officers responded to the Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 185 S. 1470 East in St. George, where a customer was allegedly refusing to pay for his breakfast and became confrontational with hotel staff, St. George Police Sgt. Spencer Holmes said.
Police officers located the man, who initially refused to identify himself and immediately became physically confrontational with the officers near his hotel room. Officers attempted to detain the man, later identified as 34-year-old John Joseph Scano, of St. George, but he refused to cooperate and tried to leave.
While officers attempted to stop Scano and handcuff him, he turned and assaulted both officers, Holmes said, kicking one officer in the jaw and punching another officer in the face. The officers then deployed a TASER on Scano and were able to take him safely into custody.
Scano was transported to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George to be cleared by medical staff prior to booking him into jail. The officers were treated by medical personnel at the scene.
Following the confrontation, at around 7:30 a.m., housekeeping staff entered Scano’s hotel room and noticed a variety of suspicious items in the room. Authorities were notified and a search warrant was issued for Scano’s hotel room where police located a Target shopping cart full of stolen merchandise.
Among some of the numerous stolen items located in Scano’s room were Melatonin pills, Zyrtec and Claritin allergy pills, a $70 Phillips toothbrush, Hanes tank tops, underwear, socks, a belt, shoes, candles and an Andrea Bocelli CD.
Holmes said Target store personnel confirmed the items, with an estimated value of around $300, had been stolen from the St. George store.
But the answer to the question begging to be asked — how might someone have been able to leave the store with a cart full of stolen merchandise undetected? — remains a mystery.
“Target has really good surveillance so it surprises me,” Holmes said. “No one knew that these items were stolen until we called Target after the warrant was served and the officers suspected this might be stolen — that’s when they did their investigation on their end and then they confirmed they were stolen items.”
Wayne Passey, who works in the St. George Target store loss prevention department, was not on duty when the incident occurred. He said crimes like these sometimes happen, especially with an increase in holiday traffic.
“Well, in general speaking, there are times that we have things get by us — it’s just nature. I mean, we don’t want it, we look for it at all times but occasionally things get past us,” Passey said, and added:
There’s definitely an increase in crime with the holidays just because of the holidays, the pressure that it puts on people so … we see things happen more during the holidays, and there’s an increase in traffic, too.
Scano was booked into the Washington County Purgatory Correctional Facility.
He was charged with three class A misdemeanors for assault on a police officer and retail theft; three class B misdemeanors for interfering with an arresting officer, failure to disclose identity and retail theft; and two class C misdemeanors for disorderly conduct.
Scano’s court arraignment is scheduled for Monday afternoon in 5th District Court.
Persons arrested or charged are presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law or as otherwise decided by a trier-of-fact.
UPDATE March 23, 2016: According to court records, on December 10, 2015, Scano pleaded no contest to misdemeanor charges of assault against and interference with police officer and two shoplifting charges. Other charges against him were dismissed. He received a suspended jail sentence of 1,088 days total on conditions of probation, $2,950 in fines to be paid over time and $4,050 in fines suspended on conditions of probation. On March 4, 2016, the court issued an order allowing Scano to do community service at $10 per hour for credit to his account.
In a March 22 email to St. George News, Scano wrote, “I am trying to put the past behind me and clean up my life ….”
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