The defendant's mother sobbed loudly when she realized her 24-year-old son was going to prison for four years.
Cory B. Smith, of 40B Corwin St., pleaded guilty in mid-February to theft of a firearm and burglary.
"Smith was involved in a lengthy crime spree in November and December," Huron County Assistant Prosecutor Daivia Kasper said.
The crimes involved co-defendant Mark A. Noller Jr., 37, of Norwalk. He is being held at the Huron County Jail without bond until he is sentenced May 2 for one count each of burglary and breaking and entering.
Smith and Noller have been convicted of stealing a firearm, some jewelry, watches, an iPod, computer and TVs from various Norwalk victims, who sustained more than $14,000 in damage.
The Nov. 27 victim reported the theft of a 9 mm pistol, a TV and laptop computer. Kasper has said Smith stole the gun from under the mattress and the culprits had ransacked the West Chestnut Street person's residence.
When the Erie Street victim came home Dec. 2, the person found their home ransacked. Smith, in a written statement to police, admitted to helping steal a TV, some jewelry, guitars and other items.
Huron County Public Defender David Longo passionately told the judge Wednesday it's hard to believe Smith, who has no prior felony or misdemeanor convictions, "was the ringleader" since Noller will be facing his third or fourth trip to prison. Longo also said giving Smith, essentially a first-time offender, "major time" is extreme.
"There was no actual violence and no actual injury," Longo said.
"He's sought treatment. He wants treatment," he said. "He's been totally remorseful."
During Smith's Feb. 19 plea hearing, the state agreed to dismiss two counts of burglary, three theft charges and one count of safecracking.
On Wednesday, the state recommended Smith receive a "mid-range prison term."
Longo said prosecutors were sending a "strong message, which is don't cooperate -- under any circumstances."
While Longo said Smith violated the sanctity of the victims' homes -- which he admitted is a serious offense -- he said his client's information led to officers using a search warrant at 14 E. Harkness St. An investigator at the time called the residence "a heroin house." Several people, including Smith, were arrested during the Dec. 3 drug raid. New tenants now occupy the house.
"He fully cooperated with authorities," Longo said.
Huron County Common Pleas Judge Jim Conway, after hearing from both sides and Smith, who admitted to being under the influence of heroin during the crime spree, said the defendant was living at one of the victimized residences when he committed the crimes. The judge also said the stolen items couldn't be replaced and the accomplices either destroyed or sold them.
Smith will serve a two-year sentence for the firearm theft at the same time he does four years for burglary. He and Noller must pay $1,500 in restitution to the victims, a female resident and two of Smith's relatives.
"I would probably not look at early release until after a couple years," Conway told Smith, who can apply for early release after six months and will be on three years of parole.