Florida Keys News
Monday, October 15, 2012
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Lawyers still negotiating plea deal for 'youthful offender'

A Key Haven man prosecutors say is responsible for 17 burglaries will likely plead out in December, but lawyers are still haggling over how much prison time, if any, he should serve.

Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives arrested Ryan Parker Tomita, who is now 20, on April 6, 2011 following a string of 17 break-ins in the Lower Keys, mostly in Key Haven and Stock Island. The burglaries included an Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicle on Cudjoe Key and some cars at the Doubletree Grand Key Resort in Key West.

Tomita will be sentenced as a youthful offender as part of an agreement with defense attorneys, but prosecutors are still talking with victims to determine how much prison time they will request from the court, said Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist.

The break-ins lead to the theft of thousands of dollars worth of goods, mostly electronics, but the total value of everything was not tabulated, Poist said. There were guns stolen as well, but none came from the ICE vehicle, Poist said.

Tomita has been out of jail and restricted to an 8 p.m. curfew unless he is working at his parents' Stock Island restaurant, Chico's Cantina, Poist said.

"It's our understanding that he has been working there and saving money in order to pay victims restitution," Poist said.

Defense attorney Richard Fowler did not return phone messages seeking comment.

Tomita was 18 when the alleged crimes were committed. The charges mounted so high that Tomita was facing as much as 120 years in prison, but that appeared unlikely from the outset as he has no prior arrest history, Poist said.

He currently faces myriad charges stemming from 17 cases ranging from cultivating marijuana and theft, grand theft and burglary felonies, Poist said.

Detectives were investigating the home and vehicle burglaries when they traced a stolen credit card that was used online on March 17, 2011, to a home on Azalea Drive where Tomita lives with his parents. Detectives found many of the alleged stolen goods in a room at that address, according to Sheriff's Office reports.

Detectives also reportedly found dried marijuana, seeds and plants, as well as a badge, gun belt, handcuffs, baton, pepper spray, bulletproof vest, wallet and digital camera taken from two Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) vehicles on Cudjoe Key.

There were no firearms stolen from the ICE vehicle, Poist said.

Additional charges were being filed against Tomita on a near-weekly basis in the days following his initial arrest on April 6, 2011.

In all, detectives have recovered televisions, computer monitors, more than 10 GPS units, jewelry, scuba equipment, digital cameras, radios as well as a .357 magnum handgun, .44 magnum handgun and a .40-caliber rifle, from his parents' home, according to Sheriff's Office reports.

Many of the goods have been returned to the owners.

alinhardt@keysnews.com

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