AUGUSTA — A 29-year-old woman repeated “guilty” 48 times in Kennebec County Superior Court as she admitted burglarizing a number of home in 2009 and 2010 in Kennebec and Oxford counties.

Sarah M. Vitale, 29, of Augusta and formerly of Waterville, was sentenced Thursday afternoon to 10 years in prison, with all but three years suspended, followed by six years of probation. She also was ordered to pay up almost $49,500 in restitution.

Police charged Vitale and her boyfriend, Luke J. Greenlaw, with dozens of burglaries and thefts after arresting Vitale on Sept. 11, 2009, in Hallowell outside a store when the two went to pawn stolen jewelry, according to the prosecutor, Kennebec County Assistant District Attorney Paul Rucha.

The methods were the same in all the crimes: Someone would break into an unoccupied home during the day — usually by damaging a screen — take a pillowcase from one of the beds and fill it with jewelry, Rucha said.

He told Justice Michaela Murphy numerous law enforcement agencies cooperated in the investigation after dozens of victims reported similar occurrences.

The big break came, he said, when a victim found one of the stolen items at Timeless Treasures Pawn Shop on Water Street in Hallowell.

Rucha said detectives learned Vitale and Greenlaw “would come in just before closing a number of nights and pawn a lot of jewelry.”

Kennebec County sheriff’s deputies were waiting for the pair outside the shop on Sept. 11, 2009. Greenlaw ran, but Vitale was arrested on an outstanding warrant and the vehicle was later searched.

“Pillowcases in the back seat appeared to have jewelry boxes in them,” Rucha said.

Vitale cooperated with authorities, leading them to the scenes of burglaries, thefts and attempted thefts that occurred between Aug. 25, 2009, and Sept. 11, 2009, in Hallowell, China, Monmouth, Pittston, Sidney, Vassalboro, Albion, Weeks Mills and Windsor.

“She told officers she was using drugs and couldn’t remember all of them, but she was able to ID most of the locations in Kennebec,” Rucha said.

Three people who were victims of the burglaries watched the sentencing but declined to speak in court. They nodded their heads when Rucha told the judge some items were recovered but many had been melted down and were not recoverable.

Freed on bail after her arrest, Vitale, with Greenlaw, fled the state and they were arrested in Chelsea, Vt., in March 2010, following a car chase. They were found with property belonging to a school that had been stolen from the home of a school employee, according to Vermont State Police.

Vitale was convicted on burglary and theft charges in Vermont, said her attorney, Sherry Tash, who added that more charges remain pending in New Hampshire as well as in Lincoln County.

Murphy said restitution was a priority, and she warned Vitale about the terms of the sentence

“If you don’t figure out how to live your life right, you could do 14 1/2 years in prison,” Murphy said.

Vitale, who was crying, told the judge she understood.

Murphy refused to waive the victim’s fees. “These are real victims,” the judge said. “People’s homes were broken into.”

Greenlaw, 37, of Augusta, pleaded guilty a month ago in Kennebec County Superior Court to one count of unlawful possession of scheduled drugs, 19 counts of burglary, 17 counts of theft by unauthorized taking or transfer and two counts of criminal attempt between Aug. 25, 2009, and Sept. 11, 2009, in Hallowell, China, Monmouth, Pittston, Sidney, Vassalboro, Albion, Weeks Mills and Windsor.

He was sentenced to 10 years in prison, with all but five years suspended, and six years’ probation. He was fined $400 and ordered to pay up to $46,880 in restitution.

Rucha told the judge Greenlaw’s sentence was longer because “he had a worse record.”

On Thursday, Vitale pleaded guilty to 23 burglaries, 21 thefts, two attempted thefts, and one count each of receiving stolen goods and criminal mischief.

She also was fined $1,000 for two counts of operating after suspension, which she pleaded guilty to on March 10.

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]


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