OCEAN CITY – An Ocean City man arrested last month in connection with a rash of vending machine break-ins in the downtown area and was later linked to a series of other thefts and burglaries throughout the resort dating back to early June pleaded guilty this week in District Court to one count of felony theft scheme and was sentenced to 15 years in jail with all but five suspended.
Denny Patrick Owens, 41, of Ocean City, was arrested in September on 36 charges ranging from burglary and felony theft to malicious destruction of property for a wide range of reported crimes throughout the resort area beginning in June. On Tuesday, Owens appeared in District Court in Ocean City and pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft scheme as part of a plea arrangement covering all of the crimes he was charged with and was sentenced to the maximum 15 years in jail with all but five years suspended.
The case against Owens began to come together in mid-September when Ocean City police responded to the Flamingo Motel on 30th Street in reference to a suspicious person who had just attempted to break into one of the motel’s vending machines. A witness told police the suspicious person, later identified as Owens, had just left the area carrying a box. Other witnesses told police Owens had been seen walking through nearby parking lots. The officers were not able to locate Owens at the time but did find several items of evidence including a large bucket full of change.
Owens was later arrested for the vending machine break-in at the motel, but police were only starting to connect the dots between the suspect and rash of similar break-ins and thefts around the resort area dating back to early June. In court on Tuesday, OCPD Detective Brett Case told the judge a similar break-in had occurred at the Shoreham Hotel and Shenanigans on 4th Street back on June 6.
Owens was staying at the Shoreham at the time and when police went to his room, they recovered evidence from other break-ins reported in the area including golf clubs and golf bags stolen from vehicles at the Holiday Inn on 17th Street. In addition, video machines had been pried open and broken into at that hotel as well.
Case told the court on Tuesday Owens had also been linked to robberies in West Ocean City at a motel where a dollar bill-changing machine had been stolen. In addition, Owens was connected to a similar break-in at Jordan’s Rooftop in the Fenwick Inn where a bill-changing machine and a safe had been stolen. Owens had also been connected to a series of vending machine thefts at several other hotels and motels from May 15 to June 1 and he was caught on video surveillance cameras during one of his escapades.
As part of a plea agreement reached on Tuesday in District Court, Owens pleaded guilty to one count of felony theft scheme and the myriad of other charges against him was not prosecuted. His public defender explained to the judge Owens had cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy and asked the judge for lenience.
However, given the magnitude of his crimes and his criminal background, Judge Daniel Mumford sentenced Owens to the maximum 15 years in prison although he did suspend 10 years from the sentence, netting Owens five years in jail. Mumford also placed Owens on probation for three years upon his release.
The judge said he realized the extent of Owens’ illness but had little choice but to sentence him to the maximum available under the guidelines.
“I’m sorry about your medical condition, but the worse part of that is the state of Maryland will now have to pay for that,” he said. “If you live long enough to get out this time, you will be on probation for three years. Frankly, I’m not optimistic about that.”