BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — MIDDLETON — A Peabody man is serving six months in jail after pleading guilty yesterday and on Friday to a series of thefts of high-priced beef and seafood from supermarkets around Essex County.
Ronald Pretola, 50, whose record includes convictions for similar thefts in 2004, 2011 and last year, admitted yesterday to two of the thefts, the first on Jan. 2 at the Middleton Market Basket, where store workers caught him stealing a beef roast, prosecutor Lars Trautman said during a hearing in Salem District Court yesterday.
The workers had been watching him during several recent visits, Trautman told a judge.
And on March 9, Pretola was charged after he tried to leave a Beverly Stop & Shop with a cartload of groceries. He ditched the cart and fled when approached by an employee but was later identified through an investigation.
Yesterday, Pretola, who has been in custody for the past month, pleaded guilty in those cases and received a six-month jail term.
That sentence will be served concurrently with one he received on Friday in Newburyport District Court, where he pleaded guilty to stealing pricey canned lobster meat from the Newburyport Market Basket on two occasions in March.
Court documents in that case say Pretola would put the cans inside his coat.
Last year, Pretola was sentenced to nine months in jail after admitting to the theft of groceries from an Amesbury Stop & Shop.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at email@example.com or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis. Staff writer Dave Rogers contributed to this report.