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Leake addresses shoplifting arrest in 2011

Leake addresses shoplifting arrest in 2011

St. Louis Cardinals announce signing of starting pitcher Mike Leake

Newly signed St. Louis Cardinals starting pitcher Mike Leake takes questions from the media during a press conference to announce his signing at Busch Stadium in St. Louis on Tuesday, Dec. 22, 2015. Photo By David Carson,

The only real blemish on the baseball career of Mike Leake, the free-agent pitcher signed Tuesday by the Cardinals, is an arrest he had in early 2011 for shoplifting six shirts at a Cincinnati Macy’s. 

In theory, Leake could have been sentenced to 180 days in jail but he eventually pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of unauthorized use of property and entered a court-sponsored diversion program. He was required to complete 30 hours of community service and counseling.

According to the arrest report, Leake removed the price tags from six shirts and tried to leave without paying for them.

But Leake said Tuesday he already had purchased the shirts and was trying to make an even exchange.

“It was just bad judgment on my part,” he said after his Tuesday news conference at Busch Stadium. “There was no intent on stealing. It was all me trying to return on my own. I already bought them. Instead of going to the clerk, I tried to play clerk, basically. It did not work out.

“I think the penalties were harsher than they should have been but the timing wasn’t right to fight something. I learned not to try to do things on my own.”

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