A Columbia man was sentenced to two years in prison yesterday after pleading guilty to 11 charges for his part in the theft of at least 23 four-wheel-drive vehicles last winter.
Adam Matthew Fattori, 19, of the 8900 block of Blade Green Lane, also was ordered to pay nearly $9,500 in restitution to 10 victims as part of a plea agreement he accepted in Howard Circuit Court.
Fattori pleaded guilty to three counts of theft and eight counts of unauthorized use of a vehicle.
Before receiving his sentence, Fattori apologized for the incidents and said he got mixed up with the wrong people.
Judge James Dudley sentenced Fattori to one year in prison for each unauthorized-use count and two years in prison for each theft count. He then suspended all but two years of the 14-year term.
Fattori will serve the sentence at the Howard County Detention Center, where he will be permitted to enter the work-release program so that he can keep his job as a cook at a Burtonsville restaurant. He also must complete five years of probation.
Judge Dudley said he would have sentenced Fattori to more prison time if it were not for the "paramount importance" of getting the defendant to pay the victims for his actions.
The judge ordered Fattori to pay the Columbia Association $3,993 for damage he and two co-defendants caused at Lake Elkhorn, where they reportedly went joy riding with the stolen vehicles.
Fattori also must pay the owners of nine stolen vehicles a total of $6,492 for damage to the vehicles. Each victim will receive between $100 and $2,179.
The prosecution dropped multiple counts of theft, attempted theft, malicious destruction and unauthorized use as part of the plea agreement.
Four co-defendants, including an 18-year-old Columbia youth, are awaiting trial in Circuit Court.
Christopher James Peca, one of the alleged leaders of the auto theft gang, is scheduled for trial on Sept. 19. Three other defendants, Keith Richard Burton, Charles Danzor and Jeffrey Rhodes, are scheduled for trials in September and October.
Another defendant, Alexi Martinez, 18, of Columbia, was sentenced to one year in prison after accepting a plea agreement last month.
A seventh defendant, a 16-year-old boy, was prosecuted in juvenile court. The outcomes of juvenile cases are not disclosed.
The defendants, most of whom were members of an automobile club called the Low Riders, are accused of stealing 23 vehicles from Columbia in December and January.
They are accused of taking the vehicles, mostly Jeep Cherokees and Chevrolet Blazers, on joy rides that often culminated in a trip to Lake Elkhorn in Columbia's Owen Brown village. There, police said, the participants would play what they called "crash-up derby" and "bumper cars."
Police said at least eight of the stolen vehicles were wrecked at Lake Elkhorn and that about $12,000 in property damage was caused at the park.