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Former Brockport kindergarten teacher sentenced to 13 years in prison for child pornography

Posted 14 June 2018 at 8:53 pm

Press Release, United States Attorney’s Office – Western District of New York

ROCHESTER – U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Roland Yockel, II, 31, of Hilton, who was convicted of receipt of child pornography, was sentenced to serve 13 years in federal prison and 15 years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Wolford.

The defendant was also ordered to pay $7,200 in restitution to victims and he will have to register as a sex offender upon his release from prison.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Kyle P. Rossi, who handled the case, stated that Yockel was employed as a full-time kindergarten teacher in the Brockport Central School District and also held positions with the Town of Hamlin Recreation Department as a summer youth camp counselor, program assistant, health director, and camp coordinator. The defendant traded, received, and possessed approximately 6,000 images and videos of child pornography, including child pornography that depicted the sexual abuse of infants and toddlers.

In July 2017, the defendant was identified by Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) Special Agents in Phoenix involved in an ongoing child pornography probe with investigators from New Zealand. That investigation identified individuals who utilized the Internet based application “Chatstep.com” to receive and distribute child pornography.

On November 21, 2017, during the execution of a search warrant at Yockel’s Hilton home, Homeland Security Agents seized multiple devices from the defendant’s bedroom, which were later analyzed and found to contain recovered approximately 5,500 images and 247 videos of child pornography. Agents further discovered that Yockel engaged in online chats with other individuals trading child pornography in which the defendant pretended to be the father of two prepubescent girls. In those conversations, Yockel offered to allow other child pornographers to have sex with his supposed daughters, and talked about having sex with the other individuals’ children.

The sentencing is the result of an investigation by Homeland Security Investigations, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Kevin Kelly, and the New York State Police, under the direction of Major Richard Allen, and the Bivona Child Advocacy Center, under the direction of Executive Director Deb Rosen.

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2 from Medina charged for selling prescription opiates, marijuana candies

Staff Reports Posted 14 June 2018 at 2:36 pm

MEDINA – Two people from Medina were charged on Wednesday after an investigation into the sale and distribution of prescription opiates and edible marijuana  candies, the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force reported.

Jeremy L. Lonnen

The Task Force worked with the Medina Police Department and ICE/Homeland Security Investigations to execute a search warrant at 715 South Main St, lower apartment, in Medina.

Police seized a quantity of prescription opiates (hydrocodone), a quantity of edible marijuana chocolate, edible marijuana gummy bears, a quantity of THC oil (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol)-(a controlled substance), numerous molds for making the marijuana candy, marijuana and other drug paraphernalia.

The marijuana edibles are made with THC oil extracted from the marijuana plant, which is the most potent form of marijuana called THC (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), the Task Force said. This oil is then mixed with sugar, water and corn syrup, cooked and poured into molds. it is also added to chocolate and into baked goods.

The following have been charged:

Nakeisha A. Colf

Jeremy L. Lonnen, 27, of 715 South Main St., lower apartment, Medina, who has been charged with1 count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fifth degree and 1 count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth degree, both class D felonies.

Nakeisha A. Colf, 23, of the same address has been charged with 1 count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the fourth degree, a class C felony, and 1 count of criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth  degree, a class D felony.

Lonnen and Colf were arraigned in the Shelby Tow Court by Town Justice Dawn Keppler. Lonnen was committed to the Orleans County Jail on $50,000 cash bail or $100,000 bond. Colf was committed to the jail on $25,000 cash bail or $50,000 bond. They are to return back to the Shelby Town Court on June 19 at 1 p.m.

This investigation is ongoing, and further charges will be filed pending lab results, the Task Force said.

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Medina man sentenced to 4 ½ years in prison for burglary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2018 at 5:01 pm

ALBION – A Medina man was sentenced to 4 ½ years in state prison and 5 years of post-release supervision after he pled guilty to attempted burglary in the second-degree.

Jerry Gray, 45, was arrested on July 26 and charged with eight counts of grand larceny in the fourth degree, burglary in the second degree, petit larceny and criminal possession of stolen property in the fourth degree.

District Attorney Joe Cardone said Gray entered the house of an elderly couple during the night and took a television, purse and other belongings.

He accepted a plea deal for attempted burglary in the second degree. Gray has five prior felonies, five failures to appear in court and has had his probation and parole revoked. Because he has prior felonies, the prison maximum was up to 5 years.

His attorney, Jon Ross Wilson, said Gray’s criminal history has been driven by drug and mental health issues. Gray had a drug relapse and stole items to buy drugs, Wilson said.

Gray apologized for the crime and said he takes responsibility for it and looks forward to getting help in prison. While in the county jail he completed a drug treatment program through the Genesee-Orleans Council on Alcoholism and Substance Abuse.

Judge Sara Sheldon gave Gray a slight break in the sentence at 4 ½ years.

In other cases in County Court today:

• Judge Sheldon said a trial will start on June 18 for the case involving Gerardo Quiros, 31, of Medina. He allegedly held a woman against her will for several weeks, while physically and sexually assaulting her.

Quiros is facing 24 counts, including seven counts of first-degree rape, 10 counts of criminal sexual act in the first degree, one count of third-degree assault, one count of both criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third and fifth degrees, two counts of endangering the welfare of a child, criminal mischief in the fourth degree, and unlawful possession of marijuana.

Quiros remains in the county jail after his bail was revoked in January by Judge Sheldon. Jurors will be picked on Monday, Sheldon said.

Jason Schmeer, 37, of Brockport was to be sentenced for fourth-degree grand larceny for taking a credit card. He has agreed to pay $485 in restitution. However, he failed to appear during sentencing. Judge Sheldon issued a warrant for his arrest.

He faces a split sentenced of up to six months in jail and five years of probation when he is sentenced.

• The judge set bail at $50,000 cash and $250,000 bond for Robert Tetrault, 37, of Albion. He faces charges of predatory sexual assault against a child after he allegedly had sexual intercourse and committed another sex act against a child.

Tetrault allegedly committed the crimes against a child, ages 9 to 10, from January to July 2012.

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Former deputy gets no jail and can no longer be police officer

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 11 June 2018 at 3:59 pm

Covis sentenced for petit larceny for ‘double dipping’

ALBION – A former Orleans County sheriff’s deputy was sentenced this afternoon for petit larceny and falsifying business records. Dean Covis won’t have to go to jail or be on probation. He also can’t work again as a police officer, Sara Sheldon, an interim County Court judge, said today during sentencing.

Dean Covis

Dean Covis

Dean Covis last July was indicted on felony grand larceny in the third degree he and another deputy, Tom Marano, were accused of falsifying time sheets when they were hired for security by Brookfield Renewable Energy Partners, which operates a hydroelectric plant in Waterport.

Covis and Marano on Feb. 26 both pleaded guilty to petit larceny and falsifying business records. Marano will be sentenced next Monday.

Covis, 53, admitted to filing false time sheets for about 690 hours at Brookfield from approximately Nov. 26, 2013 to Jan. 3, 2015. Covis has paid $12,915 in restitution.

Covis in court today said he has been committed to the community his whole life. Besides working as a law enforcement officer, he has been an active firefighter, and was a former volunteer fire chief for Albion.

“I’m a hometown guy,” Covis told Judge Sheldon. “I love the county. I’ve tried to help others.”

Covis said he is highly trained in law enforcement and “went above and beyond.” He was promoted to the level of sergeant in the Orleans County Sheriff’s Office.

He is currently working a part-time job at minimum wage. He told the judge he looks forward to working full-time to get caught up on his bills and to take care of his family.

Lawrence Friedman, the district attorney in Genesee County, served as special prosecutor for the case. He noted probation and the state police investigator didn’t request jail or probation for Covis. Friedman, however, asked for jail and also that Covis not work again in law enforcement. Friedman said he agreed with a letter submitted to the court from Chuck Nesbitt, the county’s chief administrative officer, who said Covis had violated a “public trust” with the crime.

Judge Sheldon didn’t believe jail or probation was necessary, but she said Covis will have to find a new career outside of law enforcement.

“When you’re a police officer you’re held to a higher standard,” she said. “You were caught double-dipping, which is a crime. I don’t think you should return to being a police officer because you have disgraced that organization, as well as yourself.”

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Judge weighs whether sex offender should be level 2 or 3

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 1 June 2018 at 8:58 am

ALBION – The point system for determining whether a sex offender should be level 2 or 3 says a Medina man should be at the lower level of 2.

However, Patrick Sewar, 26, had multiple victims who were children, and that prompted a Genesee County judge to deem Sewar a Level 3 offender on Wednesday.

Sewar was convicted of sex abuse charges in both Orleans and Genesee counties. He will be released next month from the Wyoming Correctional Facility after serving four years of a five-year prison sentence.

As part of his impending release, Sewar is evaluated through the Sex Offender Registration Act to determine his level.

The state Board of Examiners suggested that Sewar be a Level 2 offender based on a point system. Joanne Best, the public defender in Orleans County, asked County Court Judge Sanford Church on Thursday to have Sewar be a Level 2 offender. Sewar while in prison learned strategies to fight his sexual urges.

District Attorney Joe Cardone asked for the Level 3, saying Sewar used sex as a coping mechanism and displayed “escalating behavior.” One of the victims was subjected to years of abuse by Sewar, Cardone said.

However, in that case Sewar’s conviction was a misdemeanor because several years elapsed from when the abuse occurred and when he was charged. He was also 15 at the time when he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old child in 2006. He was sentenced to 90 days in jail and determined to be a Level 2 offender.

It wasn’t long after the misdemeanor conviction that Sewar was charged in Genesee County and accused of molesting a child under 11 at Darien in July 2013.

Sewar’s actions in the cases all fall below a Level 3 offender, Best said. She urged the judge to follow the point system in determining the levels.

“To say somehow the formula is incorrect and there should be a departure I don’t believe that is appropriate in this case,” Best told Judge Church.

A Level 2 offender has a moderate risk of reoffending while a Level 3 is considered to be a high risk. The higher the level, the more monitoring and more information that has to be provided to the community about the sex offender, although both Level 2 and Level 3 offenders are listed on a website.

Sewar said he plans to live at the Holley Hotel when he is released from prison and wants to get a job.

Judge Church said he will review the case and make a decision by late June.

In other cases in County Court on Thursday:

• A Medina resident is being held without bail while awaiting sentencing for criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree. Patrick Casanova, 24, was to be sentenced on June 21 but that has been moved back to Aug. 2.

The probation department wasn’t able to work on a presentencing report because Casanova failed to go to appointments with the probation staff.

His attorney, Public Defender Joanne Best, said Casanova wasn’t living at the Niagara Falls address where mail was sent by probation. He also has lived on North Main Street in Medina. Casanova couldn’t be reached by phone because his phone is being held by the Medina Police Department.

He faces the weapons charge after allegedly discharging a gun on Dec. 10, 2017 at O’Brien’s Tavern on Main Street. Casanova wasn’t targeting anyone when he fired the gun into the ceiling, police said.

Casanova has been incarcerated since May 13 when he allegedly was involved in a knife fight on Church Street in Medina with his brother, Cardone told the court. When Casanova was taken into custody by police, he allegedly kicked the window in the police car, causing damage, Cardone said. Casanova hasn’t been charged for the latest incident in Medina.

Judge Church told Casanova to go to any appointments and cooperate with the probation department before the sentencing on Aug. 2.

• A Kendall man admitted violating conditions of his probation and could be sentenced to 1 to 3 years in state prison as part of a plea deal. Steven Gregory, 27, of Kendall Road is on probation after being convicted of driving while ability impaired by drugs in Livingston County in 2017.

On March 6, he was charged with driving while intoxicated in the Town of Greece with a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.17 percent, more than double the legal amount. Gregory also was found to have violated terms of his probation by driving without a license, driving without an interlock ignition device and consuming vodka.

Judge Church found Gregory committed substantial violations to his probation. Gregory will be sentenced on July 9 and will face a maximum of 1 to 3 years in prison.

• The judge set bail at $25,000 for an inmate at the Albion Correctional Facility facing charges of promoting prison contraband in the first degree.

Amanda Steurrys allegedly had suboxone mailed in a greeting card to prison. She was charged on April 2. She is currently serving a 1 to 3 year sentence for criminal contempt in the first degree. She is from Wayne County.

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During assault trial, Albion man pleads guilty

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 May 2018 at 2:21 pm

Wesley Askew facing about a decade in prison when he is sentenced Aug. 20

Wesley Askew

ALBION – An Albion man on trial for first- and second-degree assault after allegedly nearly killed another man accepted a plea offer on Tuesday, the start of the second week of the trial.

Wesley Askew, 50, pleaded guilty to attempted assault in the second degree. That charge carries a maximum of 2 to 4 years in prison.

However, Askew was on parole during the incident last June 9. He will be sentenced for seven years in prison that are remaining in his post-release supervision. Plus, the 2 to 4 years will likely be added to the sentence, meaning he could get 9 to 11 years in his sentence, said District Attorney Joe Cardone.

Askew has been in the county jail on $250,000 bail after he allegedly seriously injured another Albion man on June 9 during a late-night fight at 175 North Main St., an apartment building north of the Erie Canal.

Askew allegedly got into an altercation at 1:45 a.m. and allegedly punched another man several times, causing serious head injuries.

Joseph Julyan, 54, tried to intervene when Askew got in an argument with his girlfriend. Askew testified he was upset that Julyan didn’t mind his own business, Cardone said.

Askew allegedly punched Julyan five to seven times in the head. Julyan got to his feet, but fell and hit his head on concrete.

Julyan suffered a stroke and has some paralysis on his right side.

It is difficult, however, for a doctor to pinpoint if Julyan’s injuries were caused by the punches from Askew or when Julyan fell and hit his head, Cardone said.

The DA checked with Julyan and his family if they were OK with the plea deal and they said yes.

Askew will be sentenced on Aug. 20.

He was released from prison in late 2015 after being convicted in May 2009 for second-degree rape. He is a level 3 sex offender, the highest possible risk for re-offending.

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4 from Rochester are charged with spike in drug overdoses in Orleans County

Staff Reports Posted 17 May 2018 at 3:29 pm

ALBION – Four people have been charged for selling drugs that law enforcement officials believe are responsible for the recent spike of fatal and non-fatal drug overdoses in Orleans County.

Giovanni M. Serrano

The Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force has identified a group of individuals and locations  in the City of Rochester, where quantities of the lethal drug fentanyl, also known as “gray death,” have been sold to many people from Orleans County, the Task Force said this afternoon.

In the investigation, the Task Force worked with the Greater Rochester Area Narcotics Enforcement Team (G.R.A.N.E.T)., the Rochester Police Department Tactical Unit, ICE/Homeland Security investigations and the Albion Police Department. The agencies executed three search warrants in the City of Rochester and arrested four people on numerous drug charges. One of the individuals was a 15-year-old boy.

Carlos Serrano

Police executed search warrants at 46 Conkey Ave., 79 Avenue B. and 45 Radio St., all in the city of Rochester, and seized 37 grams of fentanyl, 6 grams of heroin, marijuana, over $7,000 in cash, scales, packaging and other drug paraphernalia.

Police arrested:

• Giovanni M. Serrano, 19, was charged with 13 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (class B felonies). Serrano is currently on probation for a violent felony regarding a weapons charge in Monroe County, according to a news release from the Task Force.

• Carlos Serrano, 21, was charged with 3 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree.

Nelvin Raul Martinez

• Nelvin Raul Martinez, 18, was charged with 3 counts of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree.

• A 15-year-old juvenile was charged with one count of criminal sale of a controlled substance in the third degree (class B felony).

Giovanni M. Serrano, Carlos Serrano and Nelvin Raul Martinez were arraigned in Gaines Town Court  by Justice Bruce Schmidt. Giovanni M. Serrano was committed to the Orleans County Jail on $250,000 cash bail or $500,000 bond. Carlos Serrano and Nelvin Raul Martinez were also committed to the County Jail on $100,000 cash bail or $200,000 bond. All  three are to appear in Albion Town Court at 9 a.m. on May 21.

“Orleans County law enforcement is committed to tracking down the source of these dangerous drugs no matter where, and arrest the individuals who are responsible for plaguing our communities with these dangerous drugs,” said Joe Sacco, supervising investigator for the Task Force.

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3 are sentenced in County Court, including 2 to state prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 May 2018 at 3:08 pm

ALBION – Three people were sentenced in Orleans County Court today, including two people to state prison.

Darren Marker received the longest sentence, with 3 years in state prison and 3 years of post-release supervision.

Marker, 33, of Medina was sentenced for attempted first-degree robbery. He allegedly was in a vehicle on Main Street in Medina at 12:30 a.m. on Aug. 8 when he pulled out a knife and threatened a victim. Marker allegedly already owed the victim $110 after borrowing money with no intention of paying it back, the District Attorney’s Office said. Marker also allegedly stole cellular phone power banks from Crosby’s.

Marker faced up to 3 ½ years in state prison. Sara Sheldon, interim county court judge, gave him some leniency.

Marker said he has been in and out of since he was 17. He is determined to break the cycle of drug addiction, he told the judge.

“It’s a horrible life,” he said. “Prison is not something I want to make a career out of.”

Marker said he has a loving family as motivation. His goal is to become a drug abuse counselor.

Sheldon wished him well.

“Prisons have really good programs, but they’re not going to seek you out,” she said. “Don’t just go to the programs, but step up and be a leader in the program.”

• An Albion man was sentenced to 2 years in state prison, plus 3 years of post-release supervision for attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

Kenneth Thompson, 52, allegedly had crack cocaine packaged for sale on Dec. 11 at 135 North Main St., Room 3, where he was living.

Thompson was previously convicted of a drug charge on Oct. 5, 2015.

His attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said Thompson struggles with schizophrenia in addition to drug addiction. The schizophrenia often leads Thompson to drugs to “self medicate,” Sraceno told the judge.

“He is not as bad as he looks on paper,” Saraceno said about Thompson. “If you get to talk to him, he’s actually a real nice guy.”

The judge said the sentence for state prison would include drug and mental health treatment.

“I agree with your lawyer, I don’t think you’re a bad guy either,” Sheldon said. “But you’ve got to be stronger and find something positive to do with your time.”

• A Rochester woman received 5 years probation after pleading guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree.

Shanya Beasley, 39, admitted she had cocaine with the intent to sell it in Orleans County on April 18, 2017. She was also ordered to pay $600 in restitution to the Orleans County Major Felony Crime Task Force.

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Albion man arraigned for predatory sexual assault against child

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 May 2018 at 2:41 pm

ALBION – An Albion man was arraigned in Orleans County Court for predatory sexual assault against a child after he allegedly had sexual intercourse and committed another sex act against the child, the District Attorney’s Office said.

Robert Tetrault, 37, allegedly committed the crimes against a child, ages 9 to 10, from January to July 2012. Tetrault was arraigned last week in Orleans County Court by Judge Sanford Church.

Tetrault has previously been convicted in court on charges of attempted second-degree assault and third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon. He was sentenced to 2 to 4 years in state prison in October 2013 after fighting someone with a knife on May 23, 2013. Tetrault caused a severe laceration across another’s person hand who tried to intervene in the fight.

In other cases last week in County Court:

Miranda Rose, formerly of Orleans County, was sentenced to two years on probation after she admitted to collecting $3,577 in welfare benefits when she was living out of the county in Baltimore.

She pleaded guilty last month to fifth-degree welfare fraud. She agreed to pay $3,577 in restitution.

• The judge arraigned an Albion man who allegedly had drugs, and a knife while threatening another man on Washington Street in January.

Demetrius Bennett, 39, faces charges of criminal possession of a weapon in the fourth degree, menacing in the second degree, and criminal possession of a controlled substance in the fifth and seventh degree.

Judge Church set bail at $10,000.

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Woman who stole car sentenced to state prison

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 May 2018 at 7:55 am

3 others plead guilty in County Court

ALBION – A Rochester woman who stole a car in Albion on June 14 will spend 1 to 3 years in state prison after being sentenced on Monday in Orleans County Court.

Georgeta M. Coleman, 19, was sentenced for fourth-degree grand larceny. She had been approved for a diversion program and was at a drug treatment facility near Albany. However, Coleman only stayed briefly for orientation and left the site, stealing one of the counselor’s cars and driving back to the Rochester area. Coleman’s whereabouts were unknown for about two weeks.

“I think the system has tried very hard with Ms. Coleman,” District Attorney Joe Cardone told Sara Sheldon, interim County Court judge. “She seems to reject help. I think at this point she has exhausted people’s efforts to help her.”

Coleman’s attorney Nathan Pace said she has a “biological impediment” that makes decision-making difficult. He asked that she be sentenced to one year in the county jail instead of the longer sentence in state prison.

“She is still just a young girl,” pace told the judge. “I ask for leniency.”

Coleman said she regrets her actions and struggles to make the right choices.

She was asked why she steals cars.

“I get a mental high,” Coleman told Judge Sheldon. “It’s like I accomplished something.”

The judge decided to give Coleman the maximum sentence.

“You got to stop this,” Sheldon said. “It’s got to end.”

Three other people also pleaded guilty to crimes in Orleans County.

• A former Middleport resident pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary and could face a maximum of 1 ½ to 3 years in state prison for a burglary in the county from about 3 ½ years ago.

Nichole Hart, 27, allegedly broke into a house Dec. 28, 2014 on East Lee Road in Barre.

She is currently in a residential drug treatment program in Manhattan. Judge Sheldon complimented Hart on her progress.

Hart will be sent to the Willard drug treatment program through the state corrections system. She also has to pay $6,000 in restitution for the burglary.

She will be sentenced at 2 p.m. on Sept. 17.

• A Rochester man who has been in the county jail for 15 months pleaded guilty to attempted criminal possession of a controlled substance in the third degree and will face a maximum of 2 years in state prison as part of a plea deal. The charge normally has a sentence of 1 ½ to 8 years in prison.

Victor T. Simmons, 47, is accused of selling heroin and cocaine in Albion. Cardone, the district attorney, said there are audio and video recordings of Simmons selling drugs. Simmons said he had heroin with the intent to sell in Albion on Feb. 28, 2017.

Simmons had previously declined all plea offers. His case was also slowed when he insisted on a different attorney through the assigned counsel program.

He was emotional on Monday while entering a guilty plea. The judge had a sheriff’s deputy give him tissues for his tears.

“I’m just thinking about my kids,” he told Judge Sheldon.

Simmons will be sentenced at 2 p.m. on Aug. 6. His time in the county jail will count towards the prison sentence. He also will have three years of post-release supervision.

Vanessa Trouerbach, 26, of Churchville was accepted into a diversion program. She pleaded guilty to third-degree burglary, admitting to entering a garage on Monroe-Orleans Countyline Road on June 21. She and a co-defendant took tools. She agreed to pay up to $1,000 restitution.

If Trouerbach can follow the rules of the diversion program, the felony charge will be dismissed and she will be on probation for three years for a misdemeanor charge. If she doesn’t get through the program, she could be sentenced up to 2 1/3 to 7 years on the burglary charge.

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