Three get prison for burglarizing Aroostook house while homeowners at funeral

Posted Sept. 05, 2012, at 10:53 a.m.
Last modified Sept. 05, 2012, at 7:45 p.m.

HOULTON, Maine — Three of the four individuals accused of burglarizing a Linneus home last October while the owners were at a funeral were sentenced for their crimes late last week.

Aroostook County Assistant District Attorney Kurt Kafferlin said on Tuesday evening that Amanda Berry, 27, of Weston, Cheryl Sawyer, 33, of Linneus and 33-year-old Philip Buzzeo of Houlton appeared in Aroostook County Superior Court on Aug. 31 before Superior Court Justice Kevin Cuddy.

The fourth individual charged in the crime, Halston Wiley II, 30, of Houlton, last appeared in court in January after having heart surgery. He since has died.

The burglary occurred on Oct. 3 while the family of local businessman Darrell McGuire attended his funeral. Wiley was related to members of the McGuire family.

The burglars took jewelry, guns, prescription medications and other small items, according to police. The suspects were captured a few days later.

According to Kafferlin, the police investigation revealed that Berry and Wiley acted as the principal burglars, entering the McGuire residence that day while Buzzeo and Sawyer served as lookouts. The stolen property subsequently was divided between the four suspects, according to Kafferlin. After the burglary, they traveled to Bangor to sell much of the stolen property.

During the recent court hearing, Berry pleaded guilty to burglary while Buzzeo and Sawyer each pleaded guilty to felony theft.

Berry could have faced up to 10 years in prison, while Buzzeo and Sawyer could have been sentenced to five years in prison.

Kafferlin said that a number of members of the McGuire family attended the sentencing and one member addressed the court on behalf of the entire family.

Kafferlin said that each defendant individually apologized to the McGuire family.

Berry was sentenced to seven years in prison with all but three years suspended, followed by three years of probation. She also will serve an additional four months in prison on unrelated charges.

Buzzeo and Sawyer each were sentenced to three years in prison with all but one year suspended, followed by two years of probation.

All three defendants immediately were taken to prison.

“While the sentences cannot undo the impact on the McGuire family or really reflect the callous nature of this particular crime, the state is pleased that all three received sentences long enough to require them to serve their time with the Maine Department of Corrections rather than in the county jail,” Kafferlin said Tuesday evening.

“While none of these defendants had a prior felony conviction, Berry’s sentence reflects a significant history of misdemeanor thefts and her part as a principal in the burglary,” Kafferlin said.

Kafferlin praised the law enforcement officers whose work brought the suspects into custody.

“This case shows the high level of cooperation that exists among the law enforcement agencies working here in Aroostook County. It also is the product of much hard work on the part of [Maine] State Police Trooper [Dennis] Quint and other members of the state police who ensured that the people responsible were identified and brought to justice.”

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