A Clearwater pawn shop returned a stolen 2008 Tampa Bay Rays American League Championship ring to its owner in court Thursday morning.
R&W Pawn and Jewelry handed back the ring to Robert Windheim, who filed a police report after the ring was stolen from his home in July, then learned police found the ring at the pawn shop. The pawn shop wanted $350 for the ring and Windheim filed a lawsuit to get the ring back, no strings attached.
During the scheduled pre-trial hearing Thursday, the case went to mediation, where the pawn shop owners handed back the ring, valued at $3,600. Pinellas County Civil Court Judge Kathleen Hessinger ordered the shop owners to pay for Windheim's attorney fees, and a hearing is set for Oct. 15 to determine those fees.
Walter Orkisz, co-owner of the pawnshop, said he didn't think the shop should owe Windheim anything because they wanted to give the ring back earlier. All he wanted was a certified letter from the state acknowledging that the shop, which paid $695 for the ring, was the victim in the case.
"They could have cancelled the court date," Orkisz said. "We just gave the guy the ring back that we paid $700 for, with nothing to show for it but possible restitution from the guy who stole it."
Scott Richardson, 41, was arrested for stealing the ring and is currently in the Pinellas County jail. According to police, Richardson was working for New Tech Pest Control of Palm Harbor and doing pest control inside Windheim's home when he took the ring.
Windheim's attorney Roy L. Glass denied that the shop owners offered to return the ring before the court date and said the co-owner brothers were "twisting the facts."
Okisz said he felt the case hurt the shop's reputation and someone called and threatened the shop owners after the ring dispute was publicized.