One of three men who are accused of a multi-county burglary spree in late August is facing up to four years in prison after entering a guilty plea in County Court this afternoon.
Michael Correia is being released on his own recognizance, as part of the plea deal, and being allowed to return to his home in Syracuse after pleading guilty to burglary, 3rd.
Correia admitted to driving a vehicle to a construction site on East Main Street Road, where his accomplices went into a building and then exited with stolen items.
The alleged accomplices are Correia's nephews, William Kelly and Robert Kelly.
The trio were picked up following a traffic stop in Wayne County, where a deputy became suspicious of all the material in their vehicle.
After being questioned, the men admitted to heists in Genesee County.
Local investigators went to Wayne County and questioned the men further. They reportedly admitted to burglaries in Pembroke and Batavia.
The charges against the Kelly brothers are still pending.
Since Correia did not actually enter the buildings, an element of the crime he needed to confess to today was that at the time he arrived at the East Main Street Road location, he knew his nephews intended to enter the building and steal items.
That was a point Correia found difficult to understand.
Dressed in an orange jumpsuit, shackled, with long gray hair, full gray beard and black-rimmed glasses, Correia initially told Noonan he didn't know the Kelly brothers intended to steal anything, though he did say that he knew the items they placed in his vehicle before leaving were stolen.
This perplexed Noonan, who conferred with the attorneys and then tried another line of questioning.
Under questioning, Correia admitted that he drove his vehicle to a location in Lancaster, where he said he knew his nephews entered a building and stole items.
He agreed then, he knew they were going to steal items in Batavia.
"You intentionally assisted them in the commission of that crime," Noonan asked.
"I don't understand, 'assisted,' " he said.
His attorney, Public Defender Jerry Ader, whispered something to him and Correia then said that yes, he assisted.
At which point, Noonan could accept his plea of guilty.
Without the plea deal, Correia faced a maximum sentence on the third-degree burglary charge of two-and-a-third to seven years in prison. The plea deal caps his potential term at one-and-a-third to four years. He could still face the maximum if he violates the terms of his release while awaiting sentencing.
Sentencing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m., March 13.
Correia and the Kelly brothers still face charges in other jurisdictions, including possession of stolen property in Wayne County.