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Burglary of businesses nets man 51 months in prison

The Spokane man whose lawn was littered with more than $200,000 in stolen property following a string of burglaries last summer will spend the next 51 months behind bars, a judge ruled Wednesday.

Troy Lee Baumgardner, 38, pleaded guilty to burglary and theft charges stemming from at least three break-ins at Spokane-area businesses between May and August 2012. Baumgardner was arrested in September 2012 at a north Spokane apartment, where Spokane County sheriff’s deputies found stereo equipment, clothing and electronics taken in the burglaries that investigators carted out and sorted on the lawn outside the building.

At the time, Spokane County Sheriff’s Deputy Craig Chamberlin said the seizure was “the largest recovery in (money) and property that anyone can remember.”

Baumgardner took responsibility for his actions immediately following his arrest, prosecution and defense attorneys told Spokane County Superior Court Judge Sam Cozza. When asked in February by a court-appointed counselor determining Baumgardner’s competency to stand trial if he understood the penalties he faced, Baumgardner responded it would be difficult to “beat” the charges against him and he anticipated his sentence would be “a long time, probably.”

According to court records, stolen stereo equipment already installed in Baumgardner’s Volkswagen Beetle and “hundreds of pounds” of shoes were among the items seized by investigators. At the court hearing Wednesday, Cozza left open how much Baumgardner will pay in restitution, in part because of the complicated requests of numerous businesses thought to have been burglarized.

Several of those businesses are based in Fresno, Calif., where Baumgardner lived before moving to Washington following incarceration there in 2012. In the sentencing Wednesday, Cozza cited Baumgardner’s extensive criminal record, including nine previous felony convictions. Baumgardner will likely face additional time in a California jail following his Washington imprisonment.

Baumgardner’s brother, Theodore, faces charges of theft and possessing stolen property in connection with several of the burglaries. Theodore Baumgardner’s trial is set to begin in November.