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You Can Steal From City Hall


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You Can Steal From City Hall

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- You may not be able to fight city hall, but you can steal from it - at least for awhile.

John David Woods has been sentenced to 40 years in prison for stealing more than $100,000 from 24 city halls across Texas to pay off Internet gambling debts.

Prosecutors said Woods, 34, had developed a system during the three-year string of thefts: He would rent a car, drive to another town, sneak into the city hall and take all the money he could find.

"He said he felt like it wasn't stealing from people because it was money possessed by the city," Williamson County District Attorney John Bradley said.

Woods, who agreed to the sentence Wednesday, was caught in December at the city hall in the Central Texas town of Cedar Park. A city employee saw him there at about 9 p.m. and called police, said prosecutor Doug Arnold.

Cedar Park police broadened the investigation to more than 30 cities after Woods confessed to similar burglaries.

Arnold said the burglaries began when Woods, a self-employed home appraiser, got into debt by playing craps on an Internet gambling site. His losses were electronically debited from his bank account.

© 2004 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

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