CLEARFIELD – A DuBois man accused of invading, then robbing an elderly couple’s home and breaking into another residence where he assaulted a man pleaded guilty in Clearfield County Court.
Jeffrey A. Sprague, 29, 509 W. Washington Ave., DuBois, pleaded guilty to robbery, burglary, criminal conspiracy/burglary, false imprisonment and criminal mischief. He was sentenced by Clearfield County President Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to seven to 14 years in state prison. This sentence will run consecutive to a two to five years sentence he was given in July for a probation revocation. In the second case, he pleaded guilty to burglary, aggravated assault, criminal conspiracy and simple assault. For this he was given a seven to 14 years concurrent state sentence.
His co-defendant, Austin Cory Eheart, 20, 9 Green Ct., Palmyra, Virginia, also pleaded guilty Nov. 5 in both cases. He was sentenced by Ammerman to a total of eight to 16 years in state prison.
The charges stem from an incident in Sandy Township on June 17 when they and Eric W. Britton, 30, 139 Main St., Falls Creek broke into an elderly couple’s home and removed $1,000 in cash. Charges in the second case come from an incident in DuBois on June 12 when the trio allegedly broke into a residence where they assaulted a man.
Also, Eheart’s attorney, Christopher Pentz, asked Ammerman to reconsider Eheart’s sentence. He claimed that Sprague was the aggressive one and Eheart should have a lesser sentence. Ammerman pointed out that with Sprague’s probation violation sentence, Sprague was actually going to serve more time: a total of nine to 19 years in state prison. Ammerman said he would take Pentz’s motion under advisement.
At a preliminary hearing in June, one of the elderly victims testified that he was asleep in bed when he was awakened by his wife and a masked man asking for his money. Before he left, the man ordered them not to call the cops for 10 minutes. After he was gone, they discovered a tool box, which had $1,000 in cash in it, was missing. The victim identified the man as Sprague.
Eheart testified for the commonwealth at that hearing. He explained that he was in the area visiting Britton. Sprague, whom he met through Britton, told him that the victims had a couple thousand dollars at their home and he knew where it was located.
The plan was to get in through a window, but when they got there, it was locked. They then ripped off a screen door and Sprague forced open the main door. After they entered, he heard a woman asking what they were doing there. Britton stayed in the main room with the elderly woman because she was “freaking out.”
As soon as they got into the room where the money was supposed to be, Eheart said he was scared. He broke the window with a bat injuring his head, arm and hands as he got out.
Although Sprague told him he screwed up when he left the residence, he gave Eheart $200 because “I showed I wanted to do it.” Eheart was not sure how much money Sprague had taken.
Eheart also testified regarding the other case. He said Sprague had a problem with someone who was talking bad about his girlfriend and asked him to go along to the residence.
They entered through an unlocked door. Eheart admitted he was the first to strike the victim. He saw Sprague hit the victim several times in the face and body. Eheart said it was his idea to search for things to steal.
The victim in this case testified that he was at his girlfriend’s house when he heard there were three people hitting his vehicle with a baseball bat. The victim went out to check his car for damage. When he went back into the house three people, two with bandanas on their faces came through the door. One of them said his name was Jeffrey Sprague.
One of them swung at him and then another hit him. The victim said his whole body was hit by more than just one of the invaders.
The men ransacked the place. Sprague hit him three or four more times before leaving.
The victim said his nose was fractured. He also suffered scrapes and had bruising around his eye. Overall, he said they hit him more than 20 times.
According to the criminal complaint, police were able to determine Sprague, Eheart and Britton were the ones involved with the home invasion after they apprehended Sprague for the first incident.