The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office levied dramatic accusations against the 44-year-old northwest Pennsylvania man. They claimed he was a criminal mastermind, the ringleader in an ATV and motorcycle theft scheme.
The evidence for those allegations, however, simply wasn’t there, and despite the flashy charges it never was. The recent sentencing is clear evidence of that.
A sentence far below the guidelines
The defendant was arrested and charged in 2018, in relation to a string of ATV, motorcycle and riding lawnmower thefts that had occurred at local dealerships. Prosecutors claimed he organized the whole thing, directed others to commit many of the alleged crimes and even compensated individuals. Prosecutors said the value of the stolen vehicles was more than $145,000.
The defendant, who was represented by Chad J. Vilushis of McCormick & Vilushis LLC, pleaded no contest to a count of third-degree receiving stolen property. It is a charge that can carry a sentence of up to seven years in prison, if there is a conviction.
But in January of 2020, the defendant was sentenced to just 12-24 months in prison, less one day. It’s a punishment well below the mitigated range of state sentencing guidelines, and one that is nearly unheard of.
Vilushis told local media the short sentence shows prosecutors’ allegations were off target, and that his client had just “very limited involvement.” The man was not, as authorities had tried to argue, some criminal ringleader.
The case is a good reminder for everyone: Just because something is written in a criminal charge does not mean it is true. If you’re accused of a crime and facing the power of the district attorney’s office, it is possible to fight back and show you are not the person they claim you to be.