Prison time for Commonwealth man involved in Florence County burglaries


Staff Writer

FLORENCE, Wis. – A Commonwealth, Wis. man has been sentenced to serve two years in prison for felony charges that stem from a burglary spree throughout Florence County.

Johnathon Mark Plonty, 25, will serve two years of initial confinement, then three years of extended supervision, during which he must find employment or go to school, perform 200 hours of community service, not consume alcohol, and pay $5,088 in restitution.

Pursuant to a plea deal with Florence County District Attorney Douglas Drexler, Plonty agreed to plead guilty to three felony counts of burglary to a building or dwelling. Additional felony and misdemeanor counts were dismissed.

Plonty originally faced five felony counts of burglary to a building or dwelling, one felony count of receiving and concealing stolen property, three misdemeanor counts of receiving and concealing stolen property, and one misdemeanor count of possession of a controlled substance.

During the plea and sentencing hearing Tuesday in Florence County Court, Drexler explained that the three charges that Plonty pleaded to represented the three victims in Florence County. The victims of the receiving and concealing crimes are covered by charges issued in other counties, he added.

Plonty will be sentenced in Dickinson County Circuit Court on Feb. 5 for three felony counts of larceny. In addition, he will appear for a plea hearing in Marinette County Court on Feb. 5 for one felony count of burglary to a building or dwelling and one misdemeanor count of theft of movable property.

Charges in all three counties stem from a nearly year-long burglary spree. Plonty admitted to stealing items from buildings he believed to be abandoned, storage units, and the House of Yesteryear museum between the summer of 2011 and May 2012.

According to Drexler, officials were able to recover all of the stolen property belonging to two of the Florence County victims. They did not recover $5,088 worth of property belonging to the third Florence County victim.

Drexler said that there was some evidence to suggest that Plonty may have sold those items on eBay, an online auction website.

“Due to the extent of items taken, I believe this is an appropriate case for prison,” Drexler told Judge Leon D. Stenz. “I’d recommend five years – two and a half initial, two and a half extended supervision.”

Plonty’s attorney Zakaria Buruin of Shawano, Wis. argued against a prison sentence for his client.

“These were storage units or buildings he believed were abandoned, which doesn’t mean he had the right to do it,” said Buruin. “But, we’re not dealing with occupied homes where confrontation could occur.”

Buruin added that Plonty is currently receiving treatment for his opiate addiction, and that he hopes to enroll in community college.

When given a chance to address the court, Plonty apologized to his victims and told the court that he hopes to make changes in his life.

“Getting arrested was one of the best things that could happen to me,” he said. “I’ve gotten sober, it got me thinking right for the first time in a long time.”

Judge Stenz agreed with Buruin that Plonty did not commit aggravated crimes, but he doubted Plonty’s resolve to be sober after Plonty admitted that he drank alcohol on the night before sentencing.

“You’re in treatment, but you still consumed alcohol,” said Judge Stenz. “You’re still a risk, you haven’t gotten it.”

Judge Stenz decided to go along with Drexler’s recommendation of five years between initial confinement and extended supervision. However, he ordered more extended supervision than confinement, so Plonty can receive substance abuse treatment.

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