Myra Castleberry, 54, who has gained international attention over the years as Buffalo’s “Hugging Bandit,” added to her string of criminal convictions Tuesday.
Castleberry pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny, her seventh felony conviction. She also has 44 previous misdemeanor convictions.
In court, after her 60th arrest, Castleberry admitted stealing a wallet from a 35-year-old man’s pants pocket July 22, while he negotiated a cab fare near Jim’s Steakout on Allen Street and Elmwood Avenue.
Her prior crimes include hugging tipsy men while picking their pockets.
The Genesee-Moselle neighborhood resident entered her plea before Erie County Judge Thomas P. Franczyk, who committed to a prison sentence of 18 months to three years.
The fourth-degree grand larceny charge carries a maximum prison sentence of up to four years.
Assistant District Attorney Jaharr S. Pridgen asked that Castleberry be held in custody pending her June 19 sentencing, and the judge agreed.
At Castleberry’s arraignment in December, Laura El-Bahtity, her Lagal Aid Bureau attorney, said the prosecution’s case relied on an identification by a witness who was first shown a single photograph. The defense lawyer called it “a case solely based on identification.”
Ruling on a motion before the plea, the judge said he would allow the witness identification of Castleberry through a police photo array to be admitted as evidence in the case against her.
In past years, Castleberry has been arrested for distracting intoxicated men in the city’s entertainment district by fondling them and then stealing their wallets.