Teens Get Slap On Wrist For Gun Store Burglary, Theft

AP Photo/Keith Srakocic

In Michigan, simply carrying a firearm without a concealed carry license can result in a mandatory minimum two-year prison sentence, but three teens who broke into a gun store in Saginaw could avoid prison time altogether despite pleading guilty to fifteen felony charges.

Remy M. Delgado, Preston W. O’Leary, and Travontis D. Miller are all adults now, but they were 17-years old when they broke into the Showtime Guns & Ammo store on August 2nd, 2019 and stole approximately 50 firearms. Most of those haven’t been recovered, though police have traced one of those guns to the murder of an 87-year old woman last December. Despite the laundry list of felony offenses and the violent crime associated with their theft, however, Judge Andre R. Borrello told the teens back in June that he would sentence all three of them under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, which allows a judge to divert defendants to probation. If they successfully complete their probationary term, their record is wiped clean.

On Thursday, the three men appeared before Borello for sentencing, but the public isn’t allowed to know what sentences were actually handed down.

“At this time, when we are proceeding to sentencing, the court is under obligation to close the hearing at this time,” Borrello said after outlining the advisory guidelines. The feed was then cut.

Saginaw County Assistant Prosecutor Melissa J. Hoover later confirmed the sentencings Borrello meted out to the three men are non-public. She also confirmed that 36 of the guns Delgado, Miller, and O’Leary stole remain missing.

Saginaw County Jail records indicate only Miller remains incarcerated as of Friday morning.

So, we don’t know the specific sentences that were handed down, but it would appear that at least two of the three defendants walked away with probation.

“Throughout this entire case, the people have objected vehemently to granting the defendants HYTA,” Saginaw County Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Blair N. Stevenson said Friday morning. “However, the court sealed the sentence yesterday and the people cannot comment on it.”

At the June sentencing, Stevenson objected to Borrello’s indication that he would grant the defendants HYTA status.

“In this case, the defendants stole 50 guns from Showtime Guns,” Stevenson said. “Fifty guns. Only 14 of those firearms have been recovered as of April 8 of this year. And no surprise, Judge, all of them have been found in the hands of convicted felons. In fact, one of those firearms was used in a homicide in December in which an 87-year-old grandmother was shot in the face and killed.”

None of that mattered to the judge, who clearly believes that 17-year olds shouldn’t be held to account for crimes that they’ve committed.

Borrello at the same hearing said he has learned much in resentencing juvenile lifers in recent years. Juvenile lifers are convicts who were sentenced to life without parole for crimes committed when they were juveniles.

“It’s very clear science, evidence-based conclusions that the brain isn’t fully developed in young men until roughly around the age of the mid 20s,” Borrello said. “These gentlemen allegedly committed these crimes when they were teenagers, not even adults. If I learned one thing in handling juvenile lifers, it’s that we have to look at these things a little bit differently than we look at adults making the same poor decisions that these gentlemen may have made.”

Should these three young men spend the rest of their lives in prison for their crime? I’d say no, but there’s a big difference between a 15-year prison sentence (the maximum sentence for the most serious felony charge the trio faced) and probation, which would appear to be what at least two of the three defendants received.

As a father I’ve helped to raise three boys, so I’m not unsympathetic to the argument that the brains of young men aren’t fully developed until their mid-20s. Still, the vast majority of teenagers do not break into gun stores and traffic the firearms that they stole, so I don’t buy the judge’s argument that the three defendants’ “poor decisions” should be viewed differently than a 25-year old doing the same thing.

Judge Borello, who once chaired the Saginaw County Democratic Committee before he was appointed to the bench by then-Gov. Jennifer Granholm, may not view the burglary of a gun store and the theft of dozens of guns as a serious offense (at least as long as teenagers are the ones committing the crime), but I doubt that many folks in Saginaw would agree. Unfortunately, given that the public isn’t even entitled to know the specifics of the sentences handed down by Borello, we probably won’t see much of a reaction at all, because most folks will remain unaware of the slap on the wrist delivered by the soft-on-crime judge.

Dec 02, 2021 7:30 PM ET