Intelligencer Journal/Lancaster New Era
Goat photos lead to arrest
BY BRETT HAMBRIGHT, Staff Writer
Robert Michael Lewis might have gotten away with taking an Upper Leacock farmer's goat -- if he hadn't sent photos to his friends.
Several people apparently received photos of Lewis posing with the goat, reported stolen on Dec. 6, according to court documents. One recipient called Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers and a month later, state police charged Lewis with the theft.
Lewis, 22, of New Holland, received the charges Wednesday and has a preliminary hearing Feb. 7 on counts of theft by unlawful taking and defiant trespass.
To make matters worse, the goat split on the Garden Spot High School grad, now a Stevens College student.
According to his attorney, Lewis was taking the goat back to the farm when it jumped out of his pickup truck and took off. It still hasn't been located.
Attorney Steven Breit said his client didn't harm the animal in any way.
"It was basically a college prank gone awry," Breit said on Friday. "My client, believe it or not, is an animal lover."
Lewis intended to put the goat in a friend's yard as a joke and then return it to the farm, his attorney said.
"When he got back to the farm," Breit said, "it was gone."
It started Dec. 6 when Allen Stoltzfoos informed East Lampeter police that a black-and-white goat was taken from his farm on East Eby Road, an affidavit shows.
The goat, valued at $100, was taken from a fenced-in piece of land posted with "No Trespassing" signs, Stoltzfoos told police.
A week later, police received the Crime Stoppers lead.
Someone had called and said Lewis was sending photos of himself with the goat to several people. The tipster provided police with a photo. They matched it up with Lewis' driver's license photo, the affidavit indicates.
In a police interview last week, Lewis admitted taking the goat.
Breit said Lewis is remorseful and taking full responsibility.
"He feels terrible about it," Breit said. "Our intention is to make everything right."
Breit added: "I truly believe this was not motivated by alcohol."
The misdemeanor count of theft, upon conviction, carries a maximum penalty of a year in prison and $2,500 fine.
"It was basically a college prank gone awry. My client, believe it or not, is an animal lover."
Attorney Steven Breit