Did Mike Leake Steal From Macy's Or Was He Making An "Even Exchange"?

On Monday, the news broke that Cincinnati Reds pitcher Mike Leake was arrested and booked for allegedly stealing merchandise from a Macy's department store in downtown Cincinnati, for which he could spend up to 180 days in jail.  The items allegedly stolen:  six American Rag T-shirts worth a total of $59.88. 

Considering that Leake makes a yearly salary of $425,000, and had received a signing bonus of $2.3 million when he was signed by the Reds out of college, it was baffling to understand why he would put his career and reputation at risk to commit such a petty crime.  Making the incident even more puzzling is that according to the Hamilton County Sheriff's office, Leake had $250 in cash and three credit cards in his possession at the time of the arrest.  

Today, some more background on the incident was made public courtesy of WCPO-TV, the ABC affiliate in the Cincinnati area, but the new information seems to raise more questions.  According to the source for reporter Dennis Janson:
Leake did indeed pay for T-shirts some time prior to yesterday's episode. And only in the process of clumsily trying to exchange them, did he run afoul of, if not the law, then certainly the dictates of common sense.
That Leake somehow thought that he could affect what is termed an "even exchange" without benefit of a store employee presiding over the transaction.
If Leake was doing nothing illegal and wanted to simply exchange the shirts, why did he think he had to avoid dealing with a store employee, as is standard practice when making exchanges in stores?  Are we supposed to believe that Leake does not know how this procedure works?  Are American Rag T-shirts really that great?

The only parties that know the true story would be Macy's, who claim to have security video of the incident, and Leake himself.  Leake seems to be working on a "plea deal", according to Cincinnati.com's Eileen Kelley, where under the city's diversion program, Leake would admit to stealing the shirts and take part in monthly check-ins over a period of time in order to have his record wiped clean.

The obvious lessons for the kids at home:  don't steal, and if you get caught, tell the truth and don't try to cover it up.  Mike Leake is going to have to deal with repairing his image, and time will tell how things work out.

Report:  Mike Leake paid for shirts, was trying to make exchange [Big League Stew]

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