Two Cortland County men who were arrested last March after breaking into a home on Lime Hollow Road in Cortlandville have both plead guilty in connection with the case.
40 year old Brian Valentino of East Main Street, Cortland and 29 year old Michael Betters of 22 Crandall Street Cortland both appeared in County Court Thursday.
During his appearance yesterday, Betters who is already serving 4 1/2 years in prison on a drug conviction, opted for a plea offer in connection with the burglary case. Betters pled guilty to a felony burglary charge, in exchange prosecutors will recommend a 4 1/2 year prison sentence which will run concurrent with his current term, which means ultimately he will not serve any additional time for the break-in.
During pretrial hearings last week it was revealed that Betters was planning to take a plea deal and testify against Valentino at his upcoming trial.
That information coupled with some of the evidence that Prosecutors planned to introduce may have persuaded Valentino to rethink his options, yesterday he also took a plea deal to resolve the charges against him.
Valentino pled guilty to a felony burglary charge as a second felony offender, in exchange the D-A's office has recommended he be sentenced to 5 years in prison with 5 years of post release supervision.
Valentino faced up to 15 years in prison on the burglary charge alone.
The pair admitted that they went to a home on Lime Hollow road where they initially tried to kick in the front door, unsuccessful they entered the home through a basement window.
The teenage son of the property owner was home at the time and called police, Cortland County Sheriff's Deputies arrived just in time to see the men run from the back of the home. The men had taken jewelry and a television set, they dropped the TV as they fled.
Deputies found Betters hiding in the wooded area near the home, Valentino was located a short distance away on East Holl Road.
Last week in court, County Assistant D-A Christine Ferraro revealed that Valentino made four phone calls while in the county jail to a woman named Audrey Smith. Ferraro says Smith is a known prostitute and in those calls Valentino discusses her prostitution activity and its connection to the Cortlandville break-in.
Ferraro said that Smith offered her services to the homeowner and in turn used the opportunity to survey the house and identify valuables and drugs in the home, Smith then relayed that information to Valentino and Betters ahead of the break-in.
Valentino's trial was set to start next Monday, both men are due for sentencing next month.