Missouri valedictorian charged in retail theft ring

BISMARK, MO (KPLR) – A smart young man could go to jail for something people said was stupid. Braiden John Wilson, the valedictorian for the Bismark High School Class of 2017, has been charged with ripping off his own employer.

“He did make a full confession to law enforcement with regards to the things that were taken,” said St. Francois County Prosecuting Attorney Jerrod Mahurin.

Wilson, who is a high achieving student, worked at a JC Penney store in Farmington. He’s been charged with felony stealing and the prosecutor said two accomplices have also been charged: Kayla Cheyanne Usher and Amanda Lee Yeager.

Authorities said the scheme revolved around making fraudulent returns. Court papers indicated a store employee told police Wilson stole more than $2,000 in seven fraudulent returns. Apparently, he thought he deserved the cash.

“The reason he gave, his indication was that he felt like he was treated poorly by management and that he was entitled to or owed the items he took,” Mahurin said.

According to folks who attended the graduation ceremony, Wilson talked about how he grew up in a low- income family but now is very grateful for everything he had. The whole incident has left some Bismark residents saddened.

“I think it’s a terrible shame. He seemed to be very smart, valedictorian in his class. I don’t know what happened; I feel bad for him and his family,” said Patti Mosier, Bismark native.

For his part, Wilson declined to be interviewed, saying he didn’t want to call more attention to the story.

“I have seen both ends of the spectrum with regards to financial gain. I’ve seen people who are very wealthy that commit crimes. I have seen people who are destitute,” Mahurin said. “I’ve seen people that have little to no education; I’ve seen people that have master’s degrees.”