Montco prosecutors seek state prison term against wedding gift thief

Montgomery County Courthouse
Montgomery County Courthouse

NORRISTOWN — The “heinousness” of a wedding crashing man’s crimes — stealing $15,000 in cash gifts — warrants consecutive sentences for each of the four couples he victimized, prosecutors contend.

Montgomery County Assistant District Attorney Lindsay O’Brien and co-prosecutor Alexandria MacMaster are seeking consecutive sentences, totaling five to 10 years imprisonment and a consecutive four years’ probation, against Joseph Patrick Franzone Jr., 36, the Bridgeport man who admitted stealing cash from matrimonial events in Upper Providence and Lower Gwynedd.

“We ask the court to consider the heinousness of the crimes that the defendant has committed — stealing wedding gifts from three separate couples on their wedding days and attempting to steal wedding gifts from a fourth couple,” O’Brien and MacMaster wrote in court papers seeking the consecutive sentences.

Any sentence should reflect that Franzone committed four separate crimes, victimizing four separate couples on their wedding days, prosecutors argued.


Prosecutors want sentencing judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy to consider that Franzone’s actions “deprived multiple victims of both gifts and precious moments.”

“In addition to stealing a total of $15,000 in cash from the victims, the defendant stole items of sentimental value and precious moments that can never be replaced. Each couple’s wedding day was tainted by the defendant’s actions,” O’Brien and MacMaster wrote.

In March, Franzone, of the 300 block of Cherry Alley, pleaded guilty to charges of theft by unlawful taking and attempted theft in connection with four incidents that occurred between June and July 2013 in Montgomery, Chester and Lancaster counties. Franzone, who remains in the county jail without bail, faces a possible maximum sentence of 12 to 24 years in prison on the charges when he’s sentenced later this summer.

Specifically, Franzone admitted to stealing gifts from two weddings in Montgomery County and one in Lancaster County. Franzone also attempted to steal cash gifts from a wedding in Chester County but was thwarted by a guest. During all of the incidents, Franzone focused his attention on baskets or card boxes that contained gifts, in the form of cash or checks, which were intended for the newlyweds.

Defense lawyer Sharon Meisler previously said Franzone, a father of two, is remorseful for his conduct, which Meisler argued was fueled by an addiction to prescription painkillers. Meisler previously indicated she would seek to have Franzone sentenced to the State Department of Corrections’ boot camp program where he can receive intensive drug treatment.

An investigation began July 7 when Lower Gwynedd police responded to the William Penn Inn on DeKalb Pike for a report of a theft that occurred during a wedding reception. According to police, a relative of a newly married couple was helping transfer wedding presents, valued between $3,000 and $5,000, from the reception hall to a vehicle when some of the gifts went missing.

Surveillance photos showed a man loitering in the area and police received numerous tips as to the wedding crasher’s identity when the photographs were published and broadcast by news agencies. Franzone surrendered to police July 12 after being identified as the suspect.

Franzone also was linked to a theft that occurred during a reception held June 22 in RiverCrest Golf Club’s clubhouse in Upper Providence and to a June 29 theft from a wedding reception at a hotel in East Lampeter Township, Lancaster County.

Also on June 29, Franzone attempted to steal a basket containing about $4,000 cash from a wedding reception at The Stone Barn in West Marlborough Township, Chester County, but was thwarted by a wedding guest, according to the criminal complaint.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews.