A Buffalo man who used a stolen truck during two garage break-ins in North Buffalo was sentenced today to 5½ to 11 years in prison on his fourth burglary conviction in 20 years.
Donald Clark, 50, of Drexel Road, was sentenced as a second felony offender by State Supreme Court Justice Russell P. Buscaglia.
A jury convicted Clark of two counts of third-degree burglary and one count of fourth-degree criminal possession of stolen property.
The judge sentenced him to concurrent prison terms of 3½ to 7 years on the burglary convictions and a consecutive prison term of two to four years on the stolen property conviction.
The sentencing came after Buscaglia denied a motion by Clark’s attorney to set aside the verdict and order a new trial, based on a statement by District Attorney Frank A. Sedita to the media last August after Clark’s conviction.
At that time, Sedita announced the conviction as well as the exoneration of another Buffalo man who had been arrested in the two burglaries.
Sedita said in an Aug. 23 press release that further investigation had revealed that Christopher Fonville, 23, of Hartwell Road, had nothing to do with the break-ins and that the charges against him were dismissed before an indictment was lodged against Clark.
Clark’s attorney, Patrick J. Quinlivan, said Sedita’s statement to the media raised questions about witnesses’ identification of Clark and Fonville in the case.
But the judge agreed with Assistant District Attorney Eugene Partridge that the district attorney’s unsworn statement in a press release after Clark’s conviction was not evidence.
Partridge told the judge the case against Fonville could not be proved beyond a reasonable doubt.
The judge also denied a motion by Partridge to sentence Clark as a persistent felony offender, with a maximum possible prison term of 25 years to life. The judge noted that none of the crimes involved violence.
Prosecutors said Clark stole a pickup truck on Nov. 29, 2012, and drove it to Lovering Street where he broke into the garages at two homes in the middle of the night. After neighbors called police about a suspicious person, officers apprehended Clark carrying a weed wacker and another stolen item. Fonville was arrested a short time later.