Florida Keys News
Thursday, December 13, 2012
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Tomita gets 364 days for break-ins
Drug program and restitution also part of sentencing

A Key Haven man responsible for a litany of break-ins in the Lower Keys two years ago, including law enforcement vehicles, will spend about a year in jail and pay $25,000 in restitution.

Ryan Parker Tomita -- who is now 20, but was 18 when the crimes were committed -- pleaded guilty Wednesday before circuit Judge Mark Jones to all 38 charges stemming from 16 burglaries committed in 2011 lawyers on both sides said.

Tomita was sentenced as a youthful offender and was adjudicated guilty of all the misdemeanors, which means those charges will appear on his record as convictions.

As to the felonies, he was given a withhold of adjudication and was sentenced to two years of drug offender community control with the condition that he spend 364 days in Monroe County Detention Center while also completing the jail drug program, said Assistant State Attorney Christine Poist.

The withheld adjudication regarding the felonies means those charges will appear on Tomita's record, but he will retain his civil liberties and will not be considered a convicted felon if he successfully completes the conditions of his sentence.

Tomita will spend a total of six years on probation.

The state had asked Jones to sentence Tomita to four years in prison, Poist said.

"I think the judge's sentence allows him to have a future after he has paid his price," said defense attorney Richard Fowler. "When this young man was caught, he confessed. This is not a hardened criminal. He has been working and saving his money to pay restitution."

He was arrested on April 6, 2011, following a string of burglaries mostly in Key Haven and Stock Island. The burglaries included an Immigration and Customs Enforcement vehicles on Cudjoe Key and some cars at the DoubleTree Grand Key Resort in Key West. He had no prior arrest record.

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

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, Fowler said.

The charges, ranging from cultivating marijuana and theft, grand theft and burglary felonies, mounted so high that Tomita was facing as much as 120 years in prison, but that appeared unlikely from the outset as he had no prior arrest history, lawyers said.

Tomita read Jones a statement in which he blamed only himself, stating he dropped out of Key West High School when he was 18 years old, began smoking marijuana and "started hanging around the wrong people."

He said he was sorry for hurting the victims and his parents and that he wants to become a dive charter captain or maybe take over his parents' restaurant one day, adding that he wanted to "start fresh."

"This is something I will regret the rest of my life, not because I got caught, but because of how many people I hurt by being an arrogant, snot-nosed punk," Tomita said, according to his court statement.

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

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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