Court: Cambria County judge over-sentenced man
Illingworth received prison term after failing to probation terms
The Pennsylvania Superior Court has ruled that a Cambria County judge over-sentenced an area man for a probation violation on a retail theft charge and has ordered him to be resentenced.
John Charles Illingworth, 39, of Indiana was initially placed on probation for 84 months after entering a no contest plea to theft of $11,500 worth of diamond rings from Decker Diamond Jewelers in Ebensburg.
A Superior Court panel commented that “the trial court acted with considerable leniency in originally sentencing (Illingworth) to probation.”
But, leniency was not in the picture when Illingworth came before the sentencing judge, Norman A. Krumenacker III, last August for violating his probation.
According to Krumenacker, Illingworth had failed to comply with any of the terms of his probation “in a meaningful way” over a five-year period.
He failed to make regular contact with his probation officer. He did not update the probation office when he changed his address and the office lost contact with him.
And Illingworth did not keep up payments on the restitution he and an accomplice owed to the jewelry store.
“We had an address in Pittsburgh. We had an address in Latrobe. Letters were sent to both addresses for him to appear for office appointments with Cambria County Probation. He failed to appear or respond to either of those letters. He is delinquent on his payment,” Krumenacker stated.
The judge in an effort to “vindicate the authority of the court” revoked Illingworth’s probation and sent him to a state correctional institution for 3.5 to seven years. He is now being housed at SCI Somerset.
Within days of the new sentence being imposed, Cambria County Assistant Public Defender Mary E. Schaffer filed an appeal with the Superior Court contending a state sentence was excessive and that the judge had failed to consider Illingworth’s rehabilitative needs.
In an opinion written Friday by Superior Court Judge Jacqueline O. Shogan and joined by Judges Mary Jane Bowes and Gene Strassburger, the court stated … “we are constrained to conclude that a sentence of three and one-half to seven years was an abuse of discretion.”
The appeals court judges stressed that Illingworth’s probation violation did not result from commission of new crimes and stated his one and only conviction was a non-violent crime.
The appeals court reiterated that “the trial court abused its discretion in sentencing (Illingworth) to such a substantial term of confinement.”
It vacated the sentence and ordered resentencing.
Court documents show that Illingworth is due back in Cambria County court next week.
According to the defense, Illingworth was homeless for a time, and after living in several homeless shelters, he found a residence with the aid of the Union Mission of Latrobe.
His employment consisted of odd jobs for his landlord.
He then moved in with a girlfriend.
Although he wasn’t making restitution payments, the Superior Court opinion reported that his co-conspirator in the diamond thefts was paying on the resitution.
The defense contended the sentencing court “brushed over the dire financial situation that Illingworth found himself in and in essence, sentenced him to a harsh sentence for being unable to pay his costs, fines and restitution.”
Krumenacker, in his sentencing, found Illingworth eligible for a state prison program, the Recidivism Risk Reduction Incentive, in which his minimum sentence would be reduced from 42 to 35 months upon its completion.