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Federal judge gives 20-year sentence for smash-and-grab robberies

Federal authorities aggressively investigate and prosecute property crimes. In these cases, to achieve the best possible outcome for the accused, it is often necessary to look beyond the evidence presented in court. People accused of federal crimes have families and personal stories that could factor into a decision by a judge or a jury, and one defense strategy is to effectively tell the defendant's story.

That was the approach taken in a recent federal sentencing hearing for a man accused of playing a part in 28 robberies, one of which occurred in Pennsylvania. He and a number of other alleged accomplices were charged with delaying commerce by robbery in what federal prosecutors say was a series of "smash-and-grab" robberies in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia.

The defense for the accused man tried to sway the judge toward a lighter sentence by pointing out that the man has three daughters and three stepdaughters. He also apologized to the court in a letter, saying that despite his prior mistakes, he now has motivation to live a productive life.

His defense attorney indicated that the man intends to take part in a job-training program while in prison, and that he is remorseful about his role in the alleged crimes, which reportedly involved about $1.25 million in stolen merchandise.

In light of the defendant's criminal record, however, the judge handed down a heavy sentence of 20 years in prison. The man's defense had asked for no more than a 15-year sentence.

Pennsylvania residents facing a similar possibility need to know the importance of an aggressive and strategic defense. Prosecutors are likely to seek the harshest possible penalties, but that doesn't mean that a more favorable outcome isn't achievable.

To learn more about defending against federal crime allegations, please visit our theft crime page.

Source: The Washington Post, "Leader of smash-and-grab ring that targeted high-end stores sentenced to 20 years," Matt Zapotosky, Nov. 7, 2013

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