Morrisville town councilman faces larceny charge

Steve Rao of Morrisville calls incident a mistake

aramos@newsobserver.comJanuary 31, 2013 

Morrisville Councilman Steve Rao

TOWN OF MORRISVILLE

— Town Councilman Steve Rao faces a misdemeanor larceny charge that he stole a $1.99 pair of gloves from a local convenience store.

Morrisville police cited Rao on Monday after watching security footage of him leaving a Kangaroo Express on Davis Drive on Jan. 21 with a pair of gloves he hadn’t paid for.

Rao, 42, said the incident was a mistake. He said he was shaken up by the news he received a few hours earlier that day about a former co-worker who had committed suicide.

Rao said he picked up the gloves to purchase them and then realized he left his wallet in the car. He didn’t notice he still had the gloves, he said.

Morrisville Police Chief Ira Jones said the security footage shows Rao using his wallet in the store to buy a newspaper just before he left with the gloves.

Jones said this isn’t the first time Rao has allegedly stolen merchandise from the store and that workers at the Kangaroo Express have asked him not to return. Police have not charged him with any other crimes.

“He may want to say it’s about a $1.99 pair of gloves. But it’s not the whole story,” Jones said. “(Kangaroo Express) had suspected him before, and they were able to get a video.”

A manager at the store declined to answer a reporter’s questions about the incident.

Jones said the department is still investigating the case and has turned over the store’s surveillance video to the Wake County District Attorney’s Office.

Rao was elected to the Town Council in the fall of 2011. He ran for the Wake County Board of Commissioners in 2010 as a Democrat and lost to the incumbent chairman, Tony Gurley.

Rao said he is working with his attorney, Trey Fitzhugh, to resolve the issue.

“It was an unintentional mistake,” Rao said. “I take full responsibility, and I am sorry.”

A Kangaroo Express manager told a police officer about the incident a few days later, Jones said.

If convicted, Rao could face a fine of up to $500 and could be sentenced to serve up to 120 days in jail.

Rao could continue to serve on the council, even if he is found guilty. He said he has no plans to resign his post, which is up for election in November.

“This is not easy,” Jones said. “This is not something we take lightly. There is no preferential treatment. We are going to charge him the same as anyone else, according to the law.”

Ramos: 919-460-2609

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