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A St. John Police sergeant has resigned after allegedly stuffing a $30 package of hamburger down his pants and walking out of a store without paying for it on April 21, according to court documents.

The Des Peres Police Department issued a summons for shoplifting to Matthew Barthelmass, 36, of Kirkwood. His attorney, Travis Noble, said Barthelmass recently resigned from the St. John force. He said his client planned to enter a plea of not guilty.

“He’s devastated,” Noble said. He was a police sergeant and a highly decorated police officer and has been in law enforcement 15 years. He saved someone from a burning home. He was highly regarded.”

Noble said Barthelmass’ career is on the line.

“He wants to clear his name,” he said.

Barthelmass is accused of stealing hamburger from the Dierbergs Market at 1080 Lindemann Road.

According to police documents, Barthelmass was observed at 2:15 p.m. concealing a package of hamburger in the front of his pants. He was wearing a large Cardinals pullover. A store security officer said she watched him pay for items in his shopping cart, but he did not pay for the meat. The officer said once Barthelmass exited the store, she approached him and escorted him to the loss prevention office.

“While in the office I asked the subject to remove the meat from inside of his pants. He explained to me that he was a police officer for St. John Police Department,” the security officer’s written statement said.

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The statement said Barthelmass was informed of the store’s policy to call police for theft of items over $30. The security guard conferred with the manager of the store who then made the call.

“While in the office, the subject started saying that he begs me not to do anything because he will lose his job and this is his life.”

She advised him that the store was going to prosecute because of the amount of the theft.

St. John officials confirmed that Barthelmass is no longer an officer with their police department. His court date was set for June 5 at 6:30 p.m.

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