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AUBURN — In Cayuga County Court Thursday, an Auburn man pleaded guilty and was sentenced for his involvement in a burglary this spring.

James Bell, 42, of 124 Fulton St., admitted to entering a detached garage on Holley Street on May 30 with the intent to commit larceny. He pleaded guilty to one count of third-degree burglary, reduced from his initial indictment for second-degree burglary, a class C felony.

"I went there to steal," Bell said in his plea, adding that he knew it was illegal. Bell, however, didn't act alone in the case.

Bell, a second felony offender, named a handful of codefendants, among them Jerad Stiles, 29, and Aaron Peters, 32, who were also charged with dozens of felonies following the burglary which ultimately led to a brief police pursuit in Auburn on May 31.

Bell, under oath in court, said that during the burglary he and others entered the Holley Street property. He said he took about $165 and that other people left with guns, televisions and bags of other items.

"I wasn't thinking (about) what was wrong," Bell said. "I was trying to feed a drug problem."

Bell, who was not involved in the police chase, was arraigned July 12 on a five-count indictment charging him with second- and third-degree burglary, third-degree grand larceny, fourth-degree conspiracy and petit larceny.

Cayuga County Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Valdina said all of Bell's charges were satisfied by his plea to second-degree burglary.

"Mr. Bell did provide cooperation," Valdina said, "which is why we're agreeing to this outcome."

Bell's attorney, Norman Chirco, said Bell's primary goal is to address his drug addiction.

While the maximum prison sentence could have been 7 years, for his conviction of third-degree burglary, reduced to second-degree, Leone sentenced Bell to 2 to 4 years that will be carried out as a Willard sentence due to Bell's history with drugs and the significant impact they had on his conduct. An order of protection will also be put in place for the homeowner.

"I apologize." Bell said. "I just appreciate ... the opportunity to get my life together."

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Staff writer Megan Ehrhart can be reached at (315) 282-2244 or megan.ehrhart@lee.net. Follow her on Twitter @MeganEhrhart.

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Towns Reporter