Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Career criminal sent to prison

Hailey man sentenced after pleading guilty to burglary

Brian R. Lewis Miguel Gonzalez

A 30-year-old Hailey man, who court records state has been in trouble with the law since he was a teenager, was sentenced Monday to five years in prison following a guilty plea to felony burglary.

Brian R. Lewis must spend two and a half years behind bars before he is eligible for parole. Fifth District Judge Robert J. Elgee gave Lewis credit for 134 days already spent in jail.

Lewis was arrested on Oct. 29 along with another man for breaking into their place of employment at Gem State Roofing in Hailey and stealing electronics equipment.

Lewis' accomplice in the heist, 20-year-old Miguel Gonzalez, also of Hailey, was sentenced on Monday, March 3, to three years probation after he pleaded guilty to felony burglary. Court records indicate that Gonzalez has no prior criminal record.

But Lewis' record is a different matter.

Blaine County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Matt Fredback told the court at sentencing that Lewis has a long history of crime dating back to his juvenile years. He has several other burglary or theft convictions, a battery charge and various drug offenses, Fredback said, noting that Lewis has been involved in numerous rehabilitation programs.

"It seems that many people have given Mr. Lewis all the opportunities that are available to them and all of them have failed," Fredback said.

Public defender Dan Dolan acknowledged that his client has been in trouble numerous times with the law but asked Elgee to be lenient in sentencing because his client wants to change his ways.

"From day one, he's acknowledged that he screwed up," Dolan said. "I think Mr. Lewis realizes that if he wants to have a life with his children that he has to serve his time, come out and try to get his life together."

Dolan told the court that Lewis has two sons, an "older son" from a previous marriage and a "younger son" with his current wife. Lewis' wife and the younger son, who appeared to be about 4 years old, were present at the hearing.

Elgee asked Lewis, "What got you here?"

"My inability to say no to crime," Lewis responded.

"What's going to matter," said Elgee, "is that you make some decisions while you're there and decide what got you there. You're going to learn something or you're not."

After sentence was pronounced, Lewis turned, smiled and winked at his son.

"I love you, daddy," said the boy. He repeated the words louder a second time to make sure his father heard him.

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