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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Scales of justice vary for co-defendants

One gets two years in prison while his accomplice will spend nine years behind bars

Kevin Blocker The Spokesman-Review
A judge sentenced a Spokane man to two years in prison after he pleaded guilty Friday to 25 counts of possession of stolen property and second-degree theft. Compare that to a nine-year sentence that the man’s co-defendant got from a different judge in February for essentially the same crimes. On Friday, Spokane County Superior Court Judge Ellen Clark told Brian L. Danner to “thank” his public defense attorney and the county Prosecutor’s Office for arranging such a sweet deal. Danner originally faced 95 counts of stolen property possession and second-degree theft, said Deputy Prosecutor Carlin Jude. Then Clark issued a warning to Danner. “I’m going to remember you, Mr. Danner. The system’s had enough of you,” she said. Clark previously sentenced Danner to 12 months’ probation in October 2000 when he pleaded guilty to the charge of obtaining a signature by duress or deception. Though Clark had hard words for Danner - a 30-year-old father of three who is going to prison for the fourth time - she backed off on handing him an exceptional sentence. “I’m going to trust the wisdom of the attorneys involved and agree to this,” Clark said. Later, Clark said she didn’t see any reason to hand Danner an exceptional sentence. Danner’s co-defendant, Shelly M. Ose, received a nine-year prison sentence when Superior Court Judge Greg Sypolt threw out the attorneys’ recommended plea agreement, court papers say. Ose pleaded guilty to 25 counts of possession of stolen property and one count of first-degree theft. After sentencing Danner, Clark said she was not aware of the sentence Sypolt gave Ose. Clark also said Danner’s case was just recently transferred to her court from Sypolt’s. She said she didn’t know why. Sypolt, who was a senior attorney in the Spokane County Public Defender’s Office before being selected to the bench in 1996, would not comment on Ose’s sentencing, citing the fact that his sentencing decision is under appeal by her attorney. Danner and Ose, 38, have similar criminal records. They were arrested in August 2001 after a Riverside State Park ranger’s sting caught them breaking into several vehicles, court records say. Danner had an outstanding felony warrant for probation violation, and Ose had an outstanding misdemeanor warrant for third-degree theft, court records say. A search of each of their homes resulted in police retrieving garbage bags full of checks and credit cards that belonged to 180 to 200 people, deputy prosecutor Carlin Jude said. The rationale for offering plea deals for Danner and Ose was simple, according to Jude. Taking them to trial would have involved the “huge task” of calling 180-200 witnesses to the stand to testify about having their personal property stolen. While Danner might have served more prison time if he’d been convicted at trial, Jude noted he also could have been acquitted. “And you never know if you’re going to get the verdict you want,” Jude said. Cindy Dainio, one of Danner’s victims, told Judge Clark on Friday she was in favor of the plea agreement. A Canadian citizen, Dainio cried when she told Clark what effect her stolen purse had on her life. Dainio said her purse was stolen June 7, 2001. Her father suffered a stroke in Saskatchewan on June 10. She was denied entry into Canada without proper identification and it took her months to be able to replace the stolen ID. “He could have died, and I would have never had the opportunity to see him again,” Dainio said. It took Dainio months to get back into the country to see her father, who is still living. Danner’s public defense attorney, Jay Ames, said Danner will undergo drug counseling treatment during his two-year sentence and will serve another two years of community custody after he’s released.