Jose Gonzalez Almonte, 47, was sentenced to four months’ imprisonment on Wednesday for handling three laptops, a drill and a watch that all turned out to be stolen.
Defense attorney Jonathon Hughes told Magistrate Grace Donalds that Almonte had no previous convictions, attended church regularly and had excellent character references. His employer had described him as the most trustworthy person he had ever met. In fact, the employer put Almonte in charge of his house whenever he left the island, Mr. Hughes related.
This was not a case of laying charges of handling stolen goods because of a lack of evidence to support burglary charges, the attorney pointed out.
“It would appear he was offered a deal too good to be true,” he said. Whether Almonte was gullible, or made a mistake, he had bought items that turned out to be stolen, Mr. Hughes told the court.
When the defendant’s social inquiry report was being prepared, he had told the interviewer it was important that people who break the law be punished. He said his integrity had been harmed by his acts and he asked forgiveness, Mr. Hughes said.
Crown counsel Neil Kumar told the court that during a residential burglary, a MacBook Pro computer was stolen. It had a tracking device built in, which led police to the defendant’s address. Officers obtained a search warrant and three items recovered were identified as stolen laptops.
A second charge related to a drill which had been stolen from a vehicle in October, 2016, and also recovered from Almonte’s premises.
The third charge related to an Invicta watch, valued at $1,800, and reported stolen after a Bodden Town residence was burgled. The watch was found in the same search of Almonte’s premises.
Mr. Hughes told the court that Almonte had been in custody since June 26. He had been granted bail initially when there was one charge against him. On that date, however, two more charges were brought and the magistrate was not sure if more charges would come to light, so he revoked bail.
No further charges were brought and Almonte pleaded guilty on July 26 to the three charges as described above.
The magistrate said she considered the guilty pleas and all the surrounding circumstances before passing sentence. For the computer and the watch, she imposed prison sentences of four months, to run concurrently. For the drill, the sentence was one month concurrent.
Since credit was given for time in custody, it was expected that Almonte would be released in a matter of days.
Previous reports indicate that Almonte said he paid $800 for the watch, but the value of the other items and what he paid for them was not clear.