Copper thief pleads guilty

A man who was arrested last year for burglarizing the home of one of the most well known attorneys in Juneau and stealing several thousand dollars worth of custom-made copper shingles pleaded guilty in court Wednesday.

Rather than being sentenced to jail, Shelton H. Gleaton, 33, took a deal that enrolled him into Juneau Therapeutic Court, which is a jail diversion program for people with alcohol and drug related offenses. The program offers substance abuse treatment and community supervision to support abstinence and recovery.

Juneau District Court Judge Thomas Nave ordered Gleaton to start the program right away, as an alternative to a four-year jail sentence for felony burglary and theft.

The only reason Gleaton avoided jail time? Juneau District Attorney James Scott said attorney Mark Choate was forgiving.

“Every time (Gleaton) goes by the stately Choate mansion, he should note that Mr. Choate was receptive to Mr. Gleaton going to therapeutic court — he was enthusiastic about it,” Scott said. “If he had taken a different angle, it would have been hard for us to do this.”

Gleaton was arrested in May for stealing the copper shingles from Choate’s home on Calhoun Avenue, which is next door to — and nearly as spacious as — the Governor’s Mansion. The house has been under construction for a number of years.

Prosecutors also charged Gleaton with stealing supplies from Bartlett Regional Hospital around the same timeframe. That crime has garnered Gleaton some notoriety among BRH staff, Scott said.

“(They talk about) the guy who went into the emergency room complaining of having a fallen off a ladder the day before and then completely cleaned out every drawer he had access to in the emergency room,” Scott said. “The next guy in the emergency room, when doctors start pulling out drawers and looking for sutures and gauze and stuff to save his life, all those drawers were empty. That’s one of Mr. Gleaton’s offenses.”

The Empire reached out to BRH for comment on the deal and a spokesman referred questions to the city attorney’s office, who then referred questions to the DA’s office.

Scott noted that like attorney Choate, representatives from the hospital were open to Gleaton receiving help from the therapeutic court program rather than sitting in a jail cell.

Gleaton told the judge he was looking forward to starting the court program. (Entry is not guaranteed, and defendants are allowed to participate on a case-by-case basis.) If he doesn’t complete the program, he will have to serve three and a half year sentence at Lemon Creek Correctional Center. Gleaton already served six months.

• Contact reporter Paula Ann Solis at 523-2272 or paula.solis@juneauempire.com.

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