Political activist's husband accused of using hat to conceal purse theft

Donald Light Jr., 79, charged with grand theft

By Scott Johnson - Reporter

ORANGE PARK, Fla. - The husband of an area political activist was arrested after stealing a woman's purse over the weekend at a St. Patrick's Day party, the Clay County Sheriff's Office said.

Donald Light Jr., 79, is charged with grand theft. 

Investigators said Light stole a woman's purse, using a hat to conceal it, on Saturday night at the party held inside a law office on Kingsley Avenue in Orange Park.

News4Jax was alerted to the arrest by a woman who said she was attending her husband's office party when a man stole her purse and used a hat to sneak it out.

"I had no knowledge who he was," the woman told News4Jax on Monday. "It wasn’t until after he was confronted by law enforcement with my belongings underneath the driver seat of his vehicle along with the surveillance that I became aware of this individual and who he was."

The woman's husband provided surveillance video. He said it shows Light walk over, rummage through his wife's diaper bag and take her purse. In the video, he can also be seen wearing another hat on his head.

News4Jax ran into Light's son, who said he wasn't aware of his father's arrest.

"First I’ve heard of it, but I’m getting ready to call him though," he said Monday.

Light's wife is active in the local Republican Party, running a group called the Republican Women's Club of Duval Federated.

John Merrett, the attorney for Light, said his client is "79, almost 80. People around him are beginning to see signs of dementia" and added he's never been arrested before. 

News4Jax asked Merrett whether the arrest surprised people who know Light.

"That would be putting it mildly," he said. "You think people behave in a certain way and this is not part of anybody’s impression of Mr. Light."

News4Jax asked the Sheriff’s Office whether it believes that perhaps a mental issue or dementia played a role in the case. Deputies said they have no information on that at this point, but the arresting deputy did say something did not seem to make sense about how Light was acting during the arrest.

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