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Cleared of Robbery, Suspect Snatches Judge's Cell Phone

A Pyatigorsk man is facing up to four years in prison after he stole the cell phone of a judge at the courthouse where minutes before he had been cleared of charges of stealing a cell phone, a court official said Thursday.

The Pyatigorsk City Court on Tuesday cleared Alexander Kishko of stealing a woman's cell phone at a local clinic after the woman asked the court to drop the case because Kishko had compensated her for damages, court spokesman Astemir Podluzhny said by telephone.

But after leaving the courtroom a free man, Kishko went downstairs, snuck into the office of one of the judges and stole a cell phone, Podluzhny said.

"He was apprehended by one of the court marshals who saw him leaving the judge's chamber," Podluzhny said.

Police in the city in the southern Stavropol region could not be reached for comment.

Podluzhny said Kishko has been charged with robbery -- the same charge he had been cleared of -- and was being held in a detention facility.

In the case that was dropped, Kishko was accused of entering a clinic and attempting to steal a patient's cell phone from a drawer. Security guards caught him red-handed before he left the building, Podluzhny said.

Before he was let go, Kishko admitted to the crime in court and expressed regret over his actions, Regnum.ru reported.

Thousands of crimes have been committed in recent years -- including multiple homicides and arson -- in which authorities say the primary motive was to steal cell phones.

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