Church burglar gets near maximum sentence from Noonan
No matter how much John A. Cabrera Jr. wants to prove to the community he's a good person, he's going to have to wait, Judge Robert C. Noonan told the church burglar this morning.
The 22-year-old Cabrera told Noonan he knew had made mistakes and he was sorry for hurting people.
"In your crime spree, you victimized people who are the people who help others in the community," Noonan said. "Nothing but a long prison term would be appropriate. I'm glad you want to turn your life around, but it's going to be a long while before you can do that."
In October, Cabrera admitted to three Class D felonies of burglary and escape.
With a possible maximum sentence of two-and-a-third to seven years on each count, Noonan came close to giving Cabrera the max. Cabrera will serve two to six on all three counts, served consecutively, which means he could be in prison for six to 18 years. If he's released any time before 18 years, the balance of the sentence will be served on parole.
Cabrera's crimes included a burglary of St. Paul's, St. Mary's, Ascension West, First Baptist and St. James.
"I'm very, very sorry for what I did," Cabrera told Noonan. "Looking back on it, it's never worth it to hurt somebody, especially in a community setting like a church. It effects a lot of people. You hurt everybody in the church."
The Oct. 9 plea also satisified any uncharged crimes Cabrera may have committed and in court today Cabrera was ordered to pay restitution to a Town of Batavia women he also stole from.
He will also be required to pay restitution to Genesee County for damage he did to the jail when he escaped.
His total restitution to the churches and the woman total $7,018. Whatever balance remains unpaid upon his release from prison will be paid in $200 monthly installments, Noonan ruled. The churches and the Batavia woman will be paid first, followed by the county, before the insurance companies are paid.
"What I did was wrong," Cabrera told Noonan. "Either way, whether it was churches or somebody else, it was wrong. I'm ready to change, to seek help and to pay my debt and pay restitution. I want to do what is right. I don't want this to linger after I get out. I don't want to be remembered for the bad things I did after I get out. I want to be remembered for doing good because I'm not a bad person. I'm a good person."
District Attorney Lawrence Friedman argued that given the scope of the crimes and the nature of the victims, Cabrera should receive the maximum possible sentence.
Attorney William Harper, representing Cabrera for the Public Defender's Office, asked Noonan to consider that Cabrera never had any contact with law enforcement prior to his early summer crime spree.
He noted that Cabrera had a mental health and drug problem, which he sought help for on his own before the crime spree even started, but never really got help.
There's also an indication, Harper noted, that Cabrera's church burglaries didn't begin until after Cabrera started using bath salts.
"Bath salts wreaked havoc with his ability to deal with his mental health issues and refrain from engaging in criminal activity," Harper said.
Noonan said he was sympathetic to Cabrera's mental health issues, but the issues were not of the severity or nature that he couldn't recognize what he was doing was wrong. Presentence reports, Noonan said -- not withstanding Cabrera's own statements in court -- indicate that Cabrera believes the normal rules of society do not apply to him.
What a shame. 22 Years old. He's ruined his own life. It's really a shame.
Good call, Judge.
So a 21 year old guy that broke into a few churches and managed to escape from jail, but not ACTUALLY escape gets up to 18 years in prison and has to pay restitution, but 41 year old James L. Little, the guy that admitted to molesting 2 kids get a 15 years sentence for the first kid and 3.5 years for the second kid. This has me pondering the sanity of the justice system.
I'm sure that James Little deserves a longer sentence and John Cabrera should be able to do 3 years in a work camp. He's 21 and way too young to be serving 18 years. What he did is wrong but it pales in comparison to molesting 2 kids and his sentence is essentially the same as a child molester's.
I remember what it was like to be a wild boy at 21 and I remember what it was like to be a man at 39 (18 years later). The two ages are light years apart in how they think and behave.
Was he sentenced so severely because he broke into churches?
There was a clue in the article Doug. ""Noonan said -- not withstanding Cabrera's own statements in court -- indicate that Cabrera believes the normal rules of society do not apply to him."" This could explain the hefty sentence imposed as Judge Noonan probably has seen it dozens of times coming through his court over and over I can confidently defer to his judgement on this. But I do agree that James Little's sentence is far too light, just because of the fact that he has offended, and is in the system for ofending again and while being in the system either from his confession or other means it comes to light about another offense unknown til now. Obviously there is a problem and either longer sentence or maybe confinement in a mental health institution for much longer than this sentence is called for.
Kyle, I think 3 years in a shock camp would be perfect. His drug use precipitated his thoughts that the normal rules of society do not apply to him. Remember, he was using bath salts. Three years of sobriety, discipline, routine and isolation should bring him around, don't you think? At 21, the human brain isn't even done developing and young people do odd things. I can look back on myself and say "WTH was I thinking?" The answer is, I wasn't thing with a fully developed brain. Drugs don't help the situation, either.
I just think that if we give him a chance after 3 years in a shock camp instead of waiting 6 to 18 years in a prison that's probably going to pollute him, the outcome will be more favorable.
I like Doug's thinking here. This kid will NEVER recover after spending all that time in prison. How many times have we seen people embezzle tens of thousands from their employer and get probation?!? This is truly overkill, IMO. And yes, that child molester never needs to be outside of prison walls again, his crime is repulsive.
Anyone remember a time when guys like this were given 2 choices?
1. Join the military for 4 years and serve your country...or....
2. GO TO JAIL
I wrote a profile of a Vietnam vet years ago ... Steve Smith.
He grew up in Brooklyn, used to hang outside Ebbets Field. Met Duke Snyder, Jackie Robinson, etc.
Started to get in a little trouble as a youth, hanging out with Black Panthers, and two cops picked him up one day, drove him out to the end of a pier and told him he had two choices -- go off the end of the pier or join the Army. He chose the Army.
First assignment as a medic was at a General's retreat in Switzerland. Luxury living, no work to do.
Then Martin Luther King was assassinated. He made a smart remark in front of a general and a few days later he was on his way to Vietnam.
He wound up with a bronze star and purple heart -- saved a few men in the middle of a fire fight.
The Shock Camp idea sounds fine on the surface. Junior has mental issues; he does not meet the criteria for a shock camp. No doubt Judge Noonan took that into consideration.
Let’s say we change the criteria and junior refuses to participate in a Shock Camp once he gets there; you can’t beat the poor boy into compliance. At that point the poor dear most likely will be placed in a Medium until he screws up and then a Max.
Or, once there, Junior escapes from the Shock Camp, then what....the answer, junior will be housed in a Max Facility for the duration of his minimal sentence, plus the escape charge when he is captured.
If he were to escape, let’s hope mentally deficient junior doesn’t harm someone or worse! Then he will really ruin his life.
There will be more charges and a new trial. What does junior have to lose; the answer nothing except for a new trial with new charges at the taxpayer’s expense.
When I joined the military, I did basic training with a kid named Chow. Chow was a "bad boy", "stole cars and $%^&" he said, and basically got told to either join the Army or do jail time. Well Chow is still in, is a E7 SFC last time we chatted, has three kids like me, has been to Iraq, Afghanistan four times, and has a chest full of medals, including a Purple Heart! He's a great guy.
My point is not to dismiss the actions of this young man, but to just say that maybe it's time we be a little smarter. Give this young man the choice of rehab and service, or jail time. Not only can you guarantee that he will pay back every dime, can be rest assured he will be where he is supposed to be (believe me folks if he AWOLs, Ft. Leavenworth is a helluva lot worst than what you got.), and maybe, just maybe he will do something greater.
Just my two cents.
Doug, that system does not work as well or benefit in the way you may think. A large number of those who choose military service over jail, do not do so to change from a life of crime to becoming a normal contributing member of society. They do it so, they are allowed to roam as they see fit. Granted during boot camp and technical training they do not have alot of time to roam freely, but once they are done they are free to roam around the base or surrounding towns as they please. Many use military training to assist their criminal ways and/or combat law enforcement intrusions.
Beside his sentencing is 6-18, so there is a chance he could be released sooner. He was a young man who knows right from wrong and chose to do wrong. He threw caution to wind when he consume bath salts.
Statistics John? I'm interested since you sound concrete, where is the data?
I found this interesting and informative article published in the New York Times about the questionable success of drug rehab.
In a nutshell there are no guarantees of successful treatment no matter how much money we throw at it.
Just a note. With the ending of combat in Iraq and the draw down in Afghanistan, the Army is being downsized by about 85,000. It will no longer take people with even a minor criminal history. So the issue is moot.
Richard, if he has a mental disability then why sentence him to prison at all? Why not treat him for mental illness? Mentally ill people shouldn't be warehoused in the prison system. Maybe his mental issues were drug induced and staying sober would help clear his head.
Agree it happens sometimes, but not all are like that. Most end up going back to their roots and are sucked back in the old ways.
Phil I have no statistics to give you. Just cases that I have been able to look over, LE sensitive warnings/bolos/intel. I do know cases like your buddy Chow. I truly wish that happened more often. The fact of the matter is that unless they are willing to step away from that lifestyle (Like Chow), they usually end up going back to what they know best. I also know that there is numerous gang activity throughout the arm forces. Cannot give statistics on that either, but know cases and intel. All I am saying is that, giving a person a choice between military service and jail does not automatically make them realize the error of their ways. Just like the current election for President. People know our country is going into a downward spiral, yet they voted to keep it going down rather than see if, it could be corrected.
That is a good question, Doug.
They have special housing units in New York State Prisons, Mental Heath Wards, staffed by good caring doctors and other Mental Health Professionals to care for those needs. Their observations, diagnosis and recommendations will determine his placement in the prison setting.
They also have mandatory drug treatment programs available for his rehabilitation when he is deemed cured by the Mental Health experts. On the plus side, and lead us not into temptation, he will have little opportunity to imbibe illegal drugs; bath salts or whatever else he was consuming.
Many good people volunteer their time freely, a large contingency from churches, to help him get back on the straight and narrow; AA for example as well as other support groups.
He will given the opportunity to further education, not to mention college, if he so chooses; rehabilitation comes from within the individual. He can choose to be “warehoused” as you so put it, or he can choose to dry out and be rehabilitated.
How much of a mental issue could this kid possibly have Doug? He knew he did wrong and they blame bath salts. I am sure he has some mental issues, but he obviously knew enough between right and wrong. He understood plain and simple that what he did was wrong. Bath Salts are just another excuse to focus blame on something else. When do you hold people accountable for their actions? You can give an inch and they will take a mile.
Everything that all of you are stating on this issue is all well and good.
However, how about looking at a pro-active way to reach these young adults early on, and get them going on a positive path in life, rather than a negative one, which ultimately ends with either a jail or prison sentence.
An ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure. - Benjamin Franklin
NYS has one of the highest, if not the highest, per-student spending in the nation. Shouldn't that be putting kids on the straight path?
In an ideal world Raymond that would be great. However in my expereince with my own youth ans well as watching my stepchildren deal with this issue. They (please understand that this they includes my own recollection of my exp) at the ages of 18 to 27 believe they know everything, they are at that discovery time when they are learning the ways of the world and believe they know more thn their parents. Being tough and having to disicpline them is a component, however at this age you must also as much as it pains you allow them to learn some tough lessons as well. To an outsider it may seem cruel but les take for instance the late bloomer type, still living at home at 19 or 20 not going to school (or making a half assed attempt at further education) not having a job but dreaming big. Wanting to have the freedoms of living on their own while still at home. Sometimes you have to kick them out of the nest and let htem learn to fend for themelves. I feel the key is respect, respect in some cases should be automatic but in reality you have to give to get. I have had times of hardship with my stepsons but even in those times of anger I try to show by my example, that it is not being mean but trying to show them the realities. We have had breakdowns, but going back as soon as the passions are cooled and explaining not matter how hurt or embarassed by my own temper, and explain that it not because we dont want to help but that, we (his mother and I) tried to tell him warn him or teach him that the results of what he was doing would lead to trouble. After all that if he continues you have to let him deal with the consequences, be there to listen first then respond with what wisdom you can impart. But in the end we all have to learn some of our lessons in life by trial and error by dealing with the consequences of our actions.
Its the real lesson of parenting, they are our children and insticntively you want to help them and protect them but in reality if you go to far you end up sheltering them and enabling them which becomes a handicap when they are truly at a point where they have to fend for themselves. This is not the way to handle younger that 18 in mosy cases or how to deal with preteens and such. Each stage has its challenges and pitfalls so you have to flex.
I agree with Doug that shock camp or boot camp (I prefer the latter as all us military veteran can tell you that you can learn hard and real lessons when you are the property of uncle sam) Can turn around most, and might help break this individual's habits born of wrongly learned lessons. Which is the thing people hate about these programs, but the thing ignored about these programs is that they DO make just as much effort to replace the value system broken up by the discipline with an honor and moral values that enhance and build.
In the end it's all up to the individual him or herself. Life and circumstances dont always provide a positive environment to begin a child on a positive path early on. But it takes alot of hard work to turn a negative into a positive.
Depends Howard, does that spending go to materials and education programs? Or does it go into salaries and benifits packages for admin and tenured instructors. One obviously would widen and clear that straight path for students to walk. The other kind of muddles the way...
Let's also consider that his sentencing was moved up almost a month, without contacting his family. The only information contained in his pre sentencing report was based on information from the officers who have had contact with him over the last few months. The family never got an opportunity to give the judge his background information which includes the fact that 2 years ago he was in college and playing football - his mental health history dating back to when he was a child - and that before he starting using drugs - he indeed was a good kid with a big heart. Even a minimum of 6 years in this case is not the appropriate sentence he should have received. It's amazing to see the "community" that Judge Noonan says are "victims" are the ones standing up and speaking that the sentence was too harsh. Yes, I may be bias on the situation but facts are facts. Drugs ruin lives. The appropriate sentence should have been shock camp and rehabilitation. As far as "going back to old ways" ... what "old ways" can a 22 year old go back too? All of this started less than 2 years ago. His statements in court were also taken 3 days after his arrest. This is while he was going through withdrawal. Drugs especially bath salts and prescription drugs affect the brain for weeks before they are completely out of your system. I am in no way defending him - I believe he must be punished for what he did. But I also believe that a lengthy prison sentence is not the way.
When I read what the sentence was, my first thought was that he and his family were very unfamiliar with the justice system and therefore were too trusting of people in authority. This young man was made an example of. How often do you see multiple sentences served consecutively? Even sentences for violent crimes can be served concurrently. This was over-kill in my opinion. He made big mistakes, but it was this overdone sentence that will destroy him.
Amanda, does he have any way to appeal this sentence? Off the top of my head, perhaps there was bias on the part of the judge--possible personal connections to one or all of the churches. The Noonans are a very old, established Batavia family and I would not be surprised if there are high level church connections due to that history.
Also, John pleaded guilty, if I am understanding the posts correctly. Isn't admission of guilt the same as taking responsibility for his actions?
In my opinion, this is not justice. These sentences will not rehabilitate him at all. This was abuse of power.
He got three consecutive terms of 2-6 years. That means his sentence is 6 years to 18 years. If he behaves in prison and takes his recommended programs, he could be out in 6 years on parole. It's now up to him.
Considering the number of burglaries he committed, the sentence is not too bad. But in my opinion, what got him in really big trouble was the attempted escape. Nothing upsets law enforcement like trying to change your zip code without permission.
Gale, we are looking into an appeal on behalf of john. The problem we are running into is he only has a 30 day window and we have no contact with him while he is in transfer. You are correct, we clearly trusted the wrong people. Thank you for your kind words. Here's to hoping an appeal lawyer can get a proper sentence.
It's my understanding, he waived his right to appeal. Typically, all plea bargains in Genesee County require the defendant to waive almost all rights to appeal, except for a couple of constitutional appeals, such as the right to a speedy trial.