BRATTLEBORO -- A Wilmington man will spend three years under court supervision for a 2012 burglary and a subsequent violation of a court order.
But Justin Farnsworth, 24, won't have to spend any time in prison as long as he stays out of trouble due to a "zero minimum" sentence imposed in Windham Superior Court Criminal Division.
Judge David Suntag, acting on an agreement reached by the prosecution and defense, imposed the zero- to three-year sentence Wednesday. Farnsworth does not have to report to prison and goes directly to furlough status, under which he will be supervised by the state Department of Corrections.
James Valente, Farnsworth's defense attorney, said the resolution is appropriate given that his client has stayed out of trouble recently.
"He's shown the ability to be responsible since this happened," Valente said.
Wilmington police were called on Sept. 26, 2012 to the Old Red Mill, a North Main Street inn and restaurant, after the owner arrived and "noticed that the cash register in the deck area was pried open with nothing missing," court papers say.
"During a walk-through, we were able to locate the point of entry as a window in the main office area," Detective Sgt. Mark Denault of the Wilmington Police Department wrote in an affidavit.
Further investigation led police to a man who said he had been hanging out with "Poncho" -- a nickname for Farnsworth -- at an East Main Street apartment and had walked to the Old Red Mill with him.
"He stated that, when Farnsworth reappeared, he said, 'Let's go,'" and was carrying a backpack, the affidavit says.
A woman reported hearing that Farnsworth and two other men returned to the East Main Street apartment with "a large amount of food around 9 p.m.," Denault's affidavit says. "She told me that she was told that the items included chicken, filet (steak) and duck."
The third man in that group told police that "Farnsworth came up with the idea to break into the Old Red Mill, stating that he had done it a million times," court papers say.
That man acknowledged helping Farnsworth gain entry to the building, but he said only Farnsworth went inside, according to the police affidavit. The suspect returned with "items including food and alcohol."
Farnsworth was charged with a single count of felony burglary in connection with the incident. Last summer, he also was charged with violating his conditions of release after Wilmington police said they noticed Farnsworth in a car with a man he had been ordered to not contact in any way.
In September, Farnsworth pleaded guilty to both charges. It was not until Wednesday, however, that he was sentenced to serve a combined zero to three years. The larger part of that sentence -- two and a half years -- was imposed for the burglary conviction.
"He'll be under very tight supervision," Valente said.
These are not the first entries on Farnsworth's criminal record. He has been convicted of felonies including burglary and unlawful trespass following a 2010 arrest by Dover police as well as a count of burglary in connection with a 2009 Wilmington case.
His record also includes convictions for cocaine possession, petit larceny and retail theft.
Mike Faher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 802-254-2311, ext. 275.