There are worse things than being banned for life from Lakeside's Beasts and Bugs pet shop.
Especially if you get squeamish around burrow-loving king baboon tarantula spiders.
Deion Terrell Dickens and Charles Benjamin Johnson III will do a month in jail on weekends; they'll pay hundreds of dollars in court costs and restitution.
But lawyers for the two about-to-graduate college students persuaded a Henrico County judge on Thursday to reduce felony charges to misdemeanors stemming from the Feb. 4 break-in at the Lakeside shop and the subsequent sale of the 7-inch-diameter spiders at creepy, bargain-basement figures.
Dickens, of Virginia Beach, and Johnson, of Richmond, potentially faced years behind bars on original charges of breaking and entering, grand larceny and resale of two stolen spiders worth $500 each for just $150.
But General District Court Judge Mary Malveaux agreed to reduce the charges and punishment, preserving graduation hopes for Dickens and Johnson and keeping their records free of felony convictions. And banning them for life from Beasts and Bugs.
Shop owner Aaron Reinhard said he hopes the two live up to their college degrees and probation requirements.
"But it really disturbs me that we see something like this Third World crime happen in Henrico," he said, praising Detective A.M. Gore for tracking down the crooks and hand-delivering the spiders back to him safe and still-scary.
Meanwhile, he's swallowing the bitter taste of reinforcing his doors to the tune of $1,500 and glad he's part of a network (web?) in which offering the sale of two tarantulas worth $1,000 for $150 prompted alarm on the part of the buyer and a call of warning to Reinhard.
"I'm pretty well-known in the tarantula world," he said.
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