AUBURN — An Auburn man was sentenced to prison Thursday for robbing migrant workers in Cayuga County.
Christopher Johnson Jr., 21, of 65 Owasco Road, was arrested in connection with two armed robberies last fall.
According to the Cayuga County Sheriff's Office, Johnson and his co-defendants — 23-year-old Emilie Keeney and 20-year-old Devin Meacham-Wheeler — robbed two farms last year: one on Rice Road in the town of Scipio and another on Dougal Road in the town of Fleming.
Johnson was initially charged with 11 felonies, however, the Cayuga County District Attorney's Office and Judge Thomas Leone allowed the defendant to plead guilty in July to four felonies — two counts second-degree robbery and two counts of second-degree burglary.
At Johnson's sentencing Thursday, District Attorney Jon Budelmann said the defendants had been targeting migrants in the county because they assumed the victims would not contact police.
"They preyed upon immigrant workers ... a group of Guatemalans," Budelmann said. "(Johnson) told police they were going to use the money to 'throw a party or something.'"
Budelmann said Johnson and his co-defendants displayed a pistol at the first robbery in Scipio and had a machete, bat and gun at the second robbery in Fleming. The incident was Johnson's fourth adult arrest.
When asked if he had anything to say to the court, Johnson apologized. Both Budelmann and Johnson's attorney, Joseph Sapio, said they believed the defendant had "redeeming qualities" and hoped he would take a better path in the future.
Johnson was sentenced to four years in prison and four years post-release supervision on each count. All sentences will run concurrently to one another, Leone said.
Meanwhile, Judge Mark Fandrich sentenced Meacham-Wheeler to 4 1/2 years in prison and five years post-release supervision last month. Keeney's case is pending as she has not accepted a plea deal at this time; she pleaded not guilty to six felonies in February.
Also in court:
• Leone said only one word came to mind when looking at Ted Hunt's criminal history: "pathetic."
Hunt, of 54 St. John Ave., Binghamton, appeared in Cayuga County criminal court Thursday for sentencing. The 50-year-old had previously admitted to one count of third-degree burglary for breaking into a home in the town of Ledyard — it was his ninth felony conviction.
The district attorney said Hunt's DNA had been found on a beer can and half-eaten pizza at the crime scene. He could owe around $5,000 for stealing different collectibles from the seasonal home.
While Hunt apologized for his actions, Leone said he was disturbed by the defendant's long criminal history, which included incidents of verbal and emotional abuse. He left Hunt with a message: "Grow up."
Leone sentenced Hunt to 2 1/2 to five years in prison. Hunt will have a restitution hearing Oct. 12 to determine how much money he owes to the victims.