Shoplifters From 'Dr. Phil' Headed to Prison

By Eric S. Page, R. Stickney and Tony Shin
|  Monday, Mar 22, 2010  |  Updated 10:31 PM PDT
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Shoplifters From 'Dr. Phil' Headed to Prison

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Matthew and Laura Eaton appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show last fall to share their story, aided by a video of their three small children accompanying them on a three-day shoplifting binge.

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A San Diego County couple who bragged on national television about making $100,000 by selling shoplifted toys on eBay have been sentenced to federal prison.

The San Marcos they bragged about it their escapades on an episode of "Dr. Phil." Turns out the feds watch TV, too.

Matthew Eaton, 34, got more than two years in prison when he was sentenced Monday. His wife, 27-year-old Laura Eaton, was sentenced to a year. They earlier pleaded guilty to conspiracy to transport stolen property across state lines.
    
The Eatons were arrested last September, nearly a year after they appeared on the "Dr. Phil" show and claimed that they made as much as $3,500 a week by selling stolen goods. The show aired a video of their three small children accompanying them on a three-day shoplifting binge.
    
Prosecutors claimed they stole hundreds of boxes of Lego toys for sale online.

What Matthew Eaton called "easy money" on-air got a lot harder when the Secret Service and the San Diego Regional Fraud Task Force searched their home and seized toys, a car and other belongings.

According to the show, the couple has been stealing for at least six years.

Talk show host Phil McGraw said in the episode that the couple's children -- who were shown in a video chronicling what the couple described as three-day shoplifting trip -- were ages 4, 2 and 1 when the show aired.

Monday night, NBC 7/39 contacted Laura Eaton by phone.  She didn't want to comment about the case, but she did say that her parents would take custody of the couple's three kids.

She will begin serving her sentence on May 3.

Some residents who live on the same street as the Eatons think the sentences are too light.

"What they did, and the amount of merchandise that got stolen, I think they should have gotten more time,"said neighbor Diane Coleman.

"I feel very bad for the children, I really do,"said neighbor Sylvia VanDoorn.  "These are little children."

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