Burglary victims’ letters speak of impact of crimes at alleged ringleader’s sentencing

“It was a frightening experience,” prosecutor Amy Burock told a judge this morning. “It was a life-c

One resident came home to find her house ransacked and a figurine with much sentimental value among the items taken.

Another came home to find a front door in pieces. She didn’t know if someone was waiting inside to get her.

“It was a frightening experience,” prosecutor Amy Burock told a judge this morning of the second account. “It was a life-changing experience.”

Burock recounted the tales from the drug-fueled burglary spree of Scott Shafer, at Shafer’s sentencing in Schenectady County Court.

The burglary victims chose not to make statements, but two sent letters to the court.

Shafer and two others were arrested in December 2008 and accused of taking part in the burglary ring that touched three counties. In Schenectady County, officials noted burglaries in Rotterdam, Glenville, Princetown and Schenectady.

Shafer was previously sentenced to nine years related to a Saratoga County burglary plea. That sentence is to run at the same time as Schenectady County’s.

Shafer was identified by authorities as the leader of the ring. He pleaded guilty in May to a burglary count in exchange for an agreed-upon 14-year sentence.

Burock, of the Schenectady County district attorney’s office, indicated previously there were as many as 20 separate Shafer victims. Police have indicated the ring itself may have victimized up to 100.

One of the other men, Raymond Wilkins, 45, has pleaded guilty to a related crime.

In court this morning, Shafer watched and listened as Burock recounted the stories of some of his victims. He nodded at points.

In his own remarks, Shafer was contrite. He asked if he would be able to apologize to any of his victims directly. Burock indicated that she would pass along anything he had to say to the victims.

Shafer told the court he wanted to make clear that none of the burglaries were personal. He also didn’t know whether he did or he didn’t commit them. The burglaries were committed to fuel a drug addiction.

Shafer has spent the last 19 months in jail.

“I really do feel bad for what I’ve done,” Shafer said. “I just want them to know that.

“As far as me ever doing that again, it’s never going to happen.”

Shafer said he wanted to address what he called his serious drug addiction.

Schenectady County Court Judge Karen Drago pronounced sentence.

In doing so, she referred to her work presiding over the county drug court, working with low-level offenders whose offenses are fueled by drugs.

Had she not known Shafer’s criminal history, Drago said, her first impression of Shafer in court would have been a positive one.

“It’s unfortunate that you have to be incarcerated for these qualities to come out,” Drago told Shafer. “You have to figure out a way to bring those qualities out when you’ve been released into the community.”

Drago noted the participants in drug court learn tools to maintain their sobriety. Shafer must learn those in prison and use them for the rest of his life, Drago said. She ordered he be screened for drug treatment programs.

“You need to wake up every morning and ask, first thing, ‘How am I going to maintain my sobriety today?’”

The burglary ring was stopped in December 2008, about three months after it began, authorities said previously.

The break-ins were believed to have begun shortly after Shafer’s release from Albany County jail on Sept. 26, 2008.

After his December 2008 arrest, police showed burglary proceeds to victims, hoping to identify them. Several identified items, including one woman who told of the effects the break in had on her personally. She told of not being able to sleep without the lights on, even months after the burglary.

Officials credited the arrests to good police work and communication among law enforcement agencies. Schenectady police Detective Anthony DiCarlo was credited with first developing Shafer as a suspect, tracking down an Xbox 360 video game system to Rotterdam and identifying Shafer as the man who sold it, officials said.

Another man charged related to the burglaries had evidence against him thrown out in January over a bad search warrant, effectively ending the case against him.

The search warrant used to arrest Paul Sherwood and seize thousands of dollars in allegedly stolen goods was tossed after a judicial hearing officer found that city police were not authorized to serve the search warrant past 9 p.m.

The Sherwood ruling, however, had no effect on Shafer ‘s case. Shafer didn’t live in the home, and didn’t have the same rights to privacy as Sherwood. While the evidence couldn’t be used against Sherwood, it could have still been used against Shafer.

Categories: News

Leave a Reply