Schenectady County

Burglar gets added time for trying to frame a frame

A county court judge Friday laid out the decidedly negative consequences for a convicted burglar cau
PHOTOGRAPHER:

A county court judge Friday laid out the decidedly negative consequences for a convicted burglar caught at trial in a lie: six extra years in state prison.

Acting Schenectady County Court Judge Richard Giardino sentenced the man to 18 years in prison, a sentence extended due to Gregory Barnes attempt to place blame for the crime on another man. He even provided the new suspect’s photo.

But that image turned out to be one cut from a commercial photo frame — a model who lives 1,000 miles away.

Barnes, 50, was convicted of first-degree burglary, among other crimes. The jury found it was he — not the photo frame model he tried to frame — who broke into a woman’s home in March 2007, threatening her.

The sentence imposed was three years more than the district attorney sought.

“As upsetting as this crime is, what is also upsetting to the court is that you came and put your hand on the Bible and lied in front of the jury,” Giardino told Barnes. “You tried to put this off on someone else, and in doing so you damaged the integrity of the whole criminal justice system.”

Prosecutor Anne Bair asked for the 15 years, calling Barnes a dangerous man.

She noted a 20-year-old burglary-related conviction, as well as other allegations against him. She also noted that Barnes allegedly made sexual comments to the victim before she fought him off.

A victim’s advocate read a letter from the victim, who called the past year a nightmare. The woman said she hoped Barnes gets the help he needs, but also prison time.

“He deserves every bit of time he’s given, plus some,” she said.

For his part, Barnes Friday denied much of what Bair said about his past. “All the stuff she just said,” Barnes said when asked to clarify.

His attorney, Kent Gebert, asked Giardino for the minimum sentence of five years. Barnes had stayed out of trouble for 20 years, Gebert said, and still has a chance to be a productive member of society.

But it was the allegation of the real burglar that made this case unique, Bair said. Barnes named the other man last fall, identifying him as Wayne Heidleman, and just before trial produced the photo, an oddly cropped one of a smiling man sitting with legs bent.

Investigators spent the better part of 12 hours trying to find the man, Bair said. When the photo surfaced, they had immediate suspicions, but had to prove it.

It was Cathy Dobies, who works in the district attorney’s office, who solved the mystery. She knew she had seen the face and suspected it came from somewhere, but didn’t know where. She checked several advertisements. Then, after work, she went to Wal-Mart.

Within minutes, she found “Mr. Heidleman.”

“I went to the picture frame aisle and there they were, tons of them,” Dobies recalled today. “I was on a mission. I knew I’d seen it before.”

It turned out the man in the picture was nowhere near Schenectady last March — or apparently ever. Officials called the company that produced the frames and was told he lived in Florida.

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