Memphis man charged with stealing from Iowa students staying at church

| March 15, 2012

In the 10 years or so that Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church has been offering a second chance for criminal offenders sentenced to community service, no one ever abused that trust, church officials say.

Until this week.

On Tuesday, one offender given the opportunity to perform community service at the church allegedly took a dramatic step backward on the road to rehabilitation.

Lonnie H. Coleman, 23, of Memphis, admitted stealing items from two dozen missionary college students from Iowa who are staying in Mississippi Boulevard's Walker Family Life Center, according to a court affidavit.

Seen taking two large trash bags and putting them in the trunk of his car, Coleman later returned with some of the loot, although he had already used a woman's debit card to buy $76 worth of gas.

Coleman, the affidavit said, told police that he shouldn't be prosecuted because he brought the stolen electric razors, jeans, iPod, iPhone, laptop computer and other items back.

But he was charged with forgery, one count of felony theft and seven counts of misdemeanor theft. He was held in Shelby County Jail on $3,000 bond.

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