Man sentenced to 4 years in state prison

'We no longer have open season on Circle K,' Judge John M. Durkin said.
YOUNGSTOWN -- A 24-year-old man, who pleaded guilty to robbing the same West Side convenience store with a BB gun twice in four days, two counts of crack cocaine trafficking and a domestic violence charge, has been sentenced to four years in prison.
Joseph W. Perez, of Manchester Avenue, was sentenced Monday by Judge John M. Durkin of Mahoning County Common Pleas Court, who ordered him returned to Mahoning County Jail, where he has been housed since last April 24, and taken from there to the state's Lorain Correctional Facility to begin serving his sentence.
The judge sentenced Perez, who pleaded guilty to all of the charges Oct. 25, to four years on each aggravated robbery charge, one year on each drug charge and one year on the domestic violence charge, all to be served concurrently, meaning time served on one counts toward the others. The prosecution and defense both recommended a combined sentence of three years. Available sentencing ranges were three to 10 years on each robbery charge and six to 18 months on each of the other charges.
What judge said
Judge Durkin told the clerk from the Circle K convenience store that he hoped the sentence would help send a message "that we no longer have open season on Circle K" and that the store at 1821 Mahoning Ave., which Perez robbed twice in April 2006, is a safe place for employees and customers. "Fortunately, it was a toy gun and not a real one, and fortunately, no one was hurt," the judge added. The clerk did not make a victim impact statement in court.
"I had some problems," Perez said, apologizing to his victims and to the judge and asking for leniency. Although Perez wasn't specific about his troubles, his lawyer, Anthony P. Meranto, said Perez has previously admitted in court to having a drug addiction. The case was prosecuted by Gina Arnaut, assistant county prosecutor, who declined to comment on the sentence after court.
In September, in an unrelated case, Judge Durkin sentenced Thomas J. Mitchell, 35, of West Ravenwood Avenue, to 13 years in prison after a jury convicted him of the armed robbery of the same store last April 29. Mitchell had committed three prior violent crimes and robbed the store less than a year after his release from prison, where he had spent 14 of the 16 previous years.

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