How stealing 10 cartons of Newport cigarettes added up to 20 years in prison

Robert Spellman’s current Escambia County Corrections mugshot
Robert Spellman’s current Escambia County Corrections mugshot

Perhaps it would’ve been more appropriate for Pensacola’s Robert Spellman to have stolen Camel cigarettes last December. Because the 10 cartons of Newports Spellman stole (retail value $621.90) turned out to be the cigarettes that broke the camel’s back on Friday.

Spellman, a 48-year-old who has done seven stints in Florida prisons, got sentenced to his eighth Department of Corrections stay as a habitual offender. So, Judge Jan Shackleford gave him 10 years on the third-degree burglary conviction and 10 years for grand theft between $300 and $5,000.

A Circle K’s surveillance camera and a Sharpie snagged Spellman, according to the arrest report.

The camera caught the veteran thief breaking into a locked office where the cigarettes were around 11 p.m. last Dec. 28. After Spellman managed to load 10 cartons of Newports into his clothing, he went to his car and dumped the ciggys. He went back into the Circle K to buy lottery tickets.

The lottery tickets apparently didn’t hit, but Spellman’s number came up when the Circle K manager saw him the next night going into Tom Ann Buddy’s, a bar one block from the Circle K. When police approached Spellman, he was wearing the same clothes as on the Circle K video the previous night.

Still, he said he bought some cigarettes and had been selling singles. He had $294 in cash, six cartons of Newport in a backpack and the cartons had a black Sharpie mark the manager puts on each carton already counted for inventory.

Spellman’s done 21 months for robbery without a gun (1986-88); two years, eight months for robbery with a gun, aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a weapon (1990-93); two years, three months for aggravated battery and aggravated assault with a weapon (1993-96); a month in 1997 for a crime not specified in online records; five months for petty theft (1998-99); seven years, three months for burglary, petty theft, battery on a law enforcement officer, cocaine possession, resisting an officer with violence and obstruction (2006-13); and 10 months for driving with his license suspenced (2014-15).