Four who invaded Austintown home get 10 years each

By Justin Wier


Four men who orchestrated a robbery where they burst into an Austintown home holding semiautomatic rifles and identifying themselves as police officers each received a 10-year prison sentence.

Michael Doepker, 24; Noah Matheny, 21; Luis Claudio, 21; and Mark Hernandez, 21, all of Austintown, appeared Wednesday before Judge R. Scott Krichbaum in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court.

Assistant Prosecutor Stephen Maszczak said the men purchased clothing at Walmart that made them look like police officers and broke into the home and tied up the occupants. Hernandez remained outside as a getaway driver.

He said the men believed there would be drugs or money in the house, but found none.

“This is truly a tragedy,” Maszczak said. “You have four young men who are beginning their adult life ... and they made a tragic mistake.”

All four men pleaded guilty to six counts each of kidnapping, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary – one count for each victim. Doepker, Matheny and Claudio also pleaded to one count of impersonating a police officer, and Doepker pleaded to being a felon in possession of a firearm.

In 2013, Doepker pleaded guilty to attempted felonious assault and improperly handling a firearm in a motor vehicle.

The defendants’ attorneys said all four men took full responsibility for their actions.

Doepker lamented missing out on time with his 5-year-old son, and Hernandez in his statement to the court said he will miss out on the childhood of his unborn son.

Though the defendants other than Doepker did not have criminal records, Judge Krichbaum said their actions warranted at least the 10 years in prison prosecutors recommended in the plea agreement.

He added that, if convicted at trial, the men could face substantially longer sentence given the extent of the charges against them.

The state said it would oppose early judicial release, but Hernandez will be eligible in five years and the others will be eligible in 81/2 years. Because Hernandez remained in the car, prosecutors dismissed the mandatory three-year firearm specification.

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