By Charmayne Schmitz
Mario Lopez appeared in Judge Reed’s courtroom for sentencing on Tuesday, September 30. The burglary at 31 College Street on March 10, 2014, is only one of a spree of crimes this defendant was accused of. Today’s charges consisted of seventeen counts of burglary and possession of a firearm, enhanced by the fact that Lopez was out on bail at the time of the incident. The home was also set on fire, but Lopez was not charged with arson.
Victims of the crime stood up to tell the defendant why the destruction of their family home was so painful. The first daughter briefly described the crime. The home was “ransacked” and set on fire, her “childhood home in ashes on the ground.” Personal belongings of their dead mother were stolen or destroyed, so it was like losing “my Mom in another way.” Her father was robbed of the “comfort of returning to his wife’s home.”
The second daughter presented a longer but very poignant speech. She began by mentioning that she would like to educate people who think Lopez’s sentence will be too harsh. She described Lopez as a “self-entitled criminal who thought it would be fun to ransack your home.” There was no money, only items that had the value of remembrance. Paintings and artwork created by their dead mother were destroyed. Jewelry with only sentimental value was stolen or burned. Trash was left on the hot stove and metal was heated in the microwave to ensure the fire would be effective. The defense that Lopez used against arson was to shift the blame, saying that “someone else walked by and set the fire.” The daughter told the defendant she would like to know the nice Mario, but she only knows “the one who doesn’t care.”
Deputy District Attorney Carolyn Palumbo told Judge Reed that there are “a lot of victims” and many more burglaries. She is not done prosecuting the other cases. Then Judge Reed sentenced Mario Lopez to a total of 22 years in federal prison, with restitution fines of almost $20,000.