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‘Rooftop Burglar’ Gets Detention Teen Father Draws 60 Days For Pleading Guilty To 15 Counts Of Second-Degree Burglary

William Miller Staff writer

A 16-year-old boy who claims he committed 41 Spokane burglaries was sentenced Wednesday to 60 days in detention.

He pleaded guilty to 15 counts of second-degree burglary, but admitted being involved in 26 other break-ins as one of the so-called “rooftop burglars.”

“He was involved in quite a spree,” said Deputy Prosecutor Martin Rollins.

Superior Court Commissioner Royce Moe imposed a lighter than normal sentence after the youth’s teacher, counselor and bosses urged leniency.

“By most accounts, this kid is turning his life around radically,” Moe said afterward.

The boy, who is raising an 8-month-old son with his girlfriend, works for Spokane Transit Authority cleaning buses and also holds down a job at a fast-food restaurant.

At the same time, he is working toward a high school diploma, said his teacher, Sandy Baker. “He’s very responsible,” she said. “I have a good feeling about him.”

He insists on supporting his family, refusing to go on welfare, the teacher said.

The boy has no prior criminal record and has cooperated with police.

He has to spend only a month behind bars in the Spokane County Juvenile Detention Center. The rest of his sentence may be served at home under electronic monitoring, Moe said.

But the boy was ordered to pay restitution - probably amounting to several thousand dollars.

Police believe four people are responsible for more than 50 burglaries of businesses in Spokane and surrounding counties.

Between January and March 1994, they entered buildings at night through air vents in the roof. They stole cash and valuables, often causing extensive damage in the process, according to authorities.

Businesses on North Division, the Newport Highway and East Sprague were among those hit.

Property losses of more than $20,000 have been reported.

The alleged leader of the burglars, Edward Gulian, has so far eluded capture.

Co-defendants Tommy Joe Wolfe, 20, and Christopher Grennes, 21, are each facing multiple burglary counts.

As for the 16-year-old, Moe accepts the boy’s story that he participated “to get money to look after his baby after it was born.”

The young defendant “isn’t a bad kid” and doesn’t deserve to be sent to a state juvenile institution, Rollins conceded.

“But there are a lot of victims who may never be paid back,” the prosecutor said.

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