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Auburn woman sentenced for burglary in Cayuga County prostitution case
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Auburn woman sentenced for burglary in Cayuga County prostitution case

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AUBURN — An Auburn woman will spend about five years in prison for stealing a wallet in Venice.

In November 2017, Shannon Terwilliger, 38, entered dwellings on two Venice dairy farms. At one, she offered another woman for prostitution services and at the other, she stole a wallet. Although scheduled to begin a week-long trial for her crimes in December, she pleaded guilty instead.

Terwilliger and a female codefendent left the first dwelling when farmworkers said they weren't interested in prostitution services, Chief Assistant District Attorney Christopher Valdina told The Citizen in December. At the second home, Terwilliger stole a wallet and debit card found in a man's pair of pants.

The situation wasn't much unlike that of Clarence Brown who was sentenced to 30 years in prison in 2008 for his conviction of second-degree felony burglary and one year in jail for promoting prostitution, a misdemeanor, Valdina said. Terwilliger was an accomplice of Brown and testified at his 2008 trial.

Terwilliger, a second-violent-felony offender, was involved in a series of similar burglaries which victimized immigrants and other vulnerable people, Cayuga County District Attorney Jon Budelmann said in Cayuga County Court Tuesday.

"She has continued this course of victimizing this population. ... It's very disappointing."

Initially charged with two counts of second-degree attempted burglary, grand larceny, conspiracy and criminal possession of stolen property along with misdemeanor charges of petit larceny and promoting prostitution, Terwilliger was able to satisfy her indictment by pleading guilty to to one count of second-degree attempted burglary.

Judge Mark Fandrich sentenced Terwilliger, of 19 Orchard St., to 5.5 years in prison and five years of post-release supervision. Orders of protection were put in place for victims and she was ordered to pay about $300 in restitution. She could have faced up to 30 years in prison for her crimes.

"It's been a long road for Ms. Terwilliger with regards to this case (and) with regards to her life," said Rome Canzano, Terwilliger's defense attorney.

"I accept full responsibility for my actions," Terwilliger said. She asked Fandrich to allow her to enter any programs that might get her home sooner as she has full custody of her 16-year-old daughter.

"I've known you for a long time — a real long time," Fandrich said. "I know you've been through a lot ... but with that said there are consequences for our actions. ... I do not oppose any program that you qualify for while in (the state's Department of Corrections and Community Supervision)."

Also in court:

• An Auburn man was sentenced to up to four years in prison for a November robbery and for violating his probation.

Steven Felder, 24, of 7 Grover St., pleaded guilty Jan. 15 to forcibly robbing people of prescription medication and a vehicle. At the time this crime was committed, Felder also had a violation of probation pending, Budelmann said in court Tuesday.

"I come to you with sadness in my heart," Felder said. "I've allowed my addiction to turn me into something I'm not."

Felder, a second-felony offender, said he was on the verge of losing his wife and family and is now able to see the chaos and hurt the addiction caused them. He asked Fandrich for a drug treatment sentence to help turn his life around, saying he wants to be home for the birth of his child in August.

Fandrich said Felder "did very poorly on probation" and the court and the probation department tried to give him a chance. He said addiction "is not an easy road" and said he wasn't opposed to him participating in any drug program he may qualify for.

Felder was sentenced to two to four years in prison for his robbery charge and 1 1/3 to four years in prison for his violation of probation — he was on probation from a 2017 second-degree attempted assault charge. The sentences will run concurrently. An order of protection was issued for the victim and Felder will pay restitution jointly with his codefendants.

• A Niles man was sentenced to probation for attempting to posses a weapon.

Matthew Matijas, 25, of 3761 Route 41A, was pulled over for a taillight violation and ended up being charged with third-degree attempted criminal possession of a weapon, a class E felony.

Budelmann said the defendant was found in possession of an assault-style rifle, but had no criminal history, was an employed high school graduate and had been a member of the fire service for many years.

"He has otherwise been an outstanding member of the community," said Thomas Turturo, Matijas' defense attorney.

Fandrich said that a prison sentence would be unduly harsh for this matter and sentenced Matijas to a term of shock probation. The shock portion includes 100 hours of community service and his probation term will be five years.

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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