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Pa. judge lets robber pick his prison

January 19, 2000|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A Maryland man convicted of robbery and theft was given a choice Wednesday in Franklin County Court: Serve a sentence in state prison with the possibility of release in six months, or spend more time behind bars in the county prison.

"It's an unusual situation, but I'm going to give you the choice of what sentence you want today," President Judge John R. Walker told Michael J. Clink, 28, of Manchester, Md.

Clink had to choose between serving a state prison sentence of six months to five years now, or serving six to 23 months in the Franklin County prison at the expiration of a sentence he is serving for theft in Maryland.

Walker gave Clink 10 minutes to think it over.

Defense attorney Christopher Sheffield had asked Walker to impose local jail time concurrent with the Maryland sentence, but Walker said that wasn't an option.

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"I'm not going to give him credit from September," when Clink was transferred from Maryland to the county prison, Walker said. "I might as well be Santa Claus and hand him three $500 gift certificates."

Clink chose the local sentence, which he will begin serving in May, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Walker explained that if he chose the state prison sentence, the Pennsylvania Board of Probation and Parole would determine his release date.

Additionally, state prisons are generally considered harsher environments than county facilities, and court officials say those sentenced to state prison are rarely released immediately after serving their minimum sentence.

Serving a local sentence, Clink's release date will be determined by the court. Walker made him eligible for work release.

"The court felt you should do some time in Pennsylvania for the crimes you committed," Walker told Clink.

In addition to the jail sentence and two more years on probation, Walker ordered him to pay back the money stolen from Sally Beauty Supply and more than $5,000 in restitution to A-1 Motors.

According to Chambersburg police, Clink went to A-1 Motors Inc., 545 Loudon St., on Feb. 3, 1999, and stole 17 sets of car keys from the office. Two days later a 1987 Oldsmobile Cutlass was stolen from the lot.

On Feb. 5, 1999, Clink and a woman went into Sally Beauty Supply, 251 Cedar St., with their hands in their pockets and demanded cash.

They took $768 and fled in a vehicle driven by another man, according to police records.

Clink was arrested the next day in Maryland. He pleaded guilty on Dec. 8 in Franklin County Court to third-degree felony robbery and the theft charge.

Borough police also charged Jennifer Horton, 37, of Westminster, and Leroy Buccini, 26, of Reisterstown, Md., in the robbery. Buccini pleaded guilty and is to be sentenced Feb. 23. Horton is awaiting trial, according to the District Attorney's Office.

"I don't know when I've ever given a defendant a choice of sentences," Walker said.

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