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Elderly victim's sympathy gets teen robber leniency

BROOKSVILLE — A 16-year-old girl who masterminded the robbery of a 93-year-old man at his Spring Hill home was sentenced Thursday to three years in prison.

Natasha Raiola pleaded guilty and Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing sentenced her as a juvenile, recommending she serve her term at a youth boot camp.

Raiola and co-defendant David Barnes, 20, were arrested in June for the May 22 robbery of James Moran at his home on Lodge Circle. They entered the elderly man's home about 9:30 p.m. and Barnes pointed a black handgun at his head while Raiola went in his bedroom and took $380, Sheriff's Office reports state.

The two then left, taking the keys to Moran's 2007 Toyota Corolla and driving away in his car, reports state.

Assistant State Attorney Don Barbee said Raiola planned the robbery after meeting Moran and knowing he carried large amounts of cash.

Raiola was 15 at the time of the home invasion but prosecutors charged her as an adult. She faced at least 50 years in prison if convicted.

But, as part of a plea deal, prosecutors allowed her to be sentenced as a juvenile. She will spend three years on probation after she serves her three-year sentence.

Barbee told the court "the leniency provided to Ms. Raiola is at the request of Mr. Moran."

Moran, who didn't attend the court hearing, said Thursday he asked for a light punishment after the girl's legal guardian told him about Raiola's difficult upbringing and how her birth mother is frequently incarcerated.

"I showed a bit of sympathy," he said from his home. "She's losing all those years of her life."

Raiola will report for prison Jan. 22 after she takes care of a few medical issues, her attorney, Robert Morris, said.

Her codefendant, Barnes, was sentenced in December. He also received leniency as a youthful offender, taking a plea deal for four years in prison followed by two years probation.

Robbery, threatening officer net jail time

A 24-year-old man pleaded no contest Thursday to robbing a Brooksville convenience store at gunpoint.

Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing sentenced Matthew Scott Tyson to 10 years in prison for robbery with a firearm, aggravated assault of a police officer and possession of a firearm by a felon.

The Brooksville man went into Super Discount Beverage on S Broad Street at 2:20 p.m. June 2 and held the clerk behind the counter at gunpoint with a .45 caliber handgun as he demanded money from the cash register, according to police reports. Tyson got $200 and fled before police confronted him in the woods near Decatur Street.

Reports state Tyson pointed the gun at an officer while running. Officers caught him a short distance away and he surrendered. Tyson was on probation for fleeing and eluding the police at the time of the robbery. He faced life in prison but took a plea deal offered by prosecutors.

Man caught with cocaine gets prison

A Texas man caught driving on Interstate 75 in Hernando County with more than a kilogram of cocaine received three and a half years in prison Thursday.

Jose Cesar De La Garza, 22, faced four drug charges, including trafficking cocaine, but took a plea deal that spares him from decades behind bars. He was stopped Feb. 19 by U.S. Border Patrol agents.

The Florida Highway Patrol arrested De La Garza after finding three packages of cocaine totaling nearly three pounds in a homemade false compartment in the rear cargo area of his Ford Expedition, reports state. He admitted driving from Texas en route to Brandon to sell the cocaine, reports state.

Judge sets bail for repeat offender

A Hernando County judge dismissed a prosecutor's objections and issued a $5,000 bond Thursday for a Brooksville man who was arrested twice while previously freed on bond.

Assistant State Attorney Erin Corcoran Daly sought to keep Tyvon Frazier, 20, in jail until his cases were resolved and called him a "danger to the community." But Circuit Judge Stephen Rushing granted a request for bond from Frazier's attorney Peyton Hyslop, despite the recommitment order.

Frazier's criminal history dates back years but his most recent troubles began when he was arrested July 30 for fleeing and eluding authorities and driving on a suspended license.

He was stopped again Oct. 13 and issued a citation for driving on a suspended license. He was also arrested for violating his probation. Prosecutors didn't get noticed of the stop until after sheriff's deputies again arrested Frazier on Nov. 29 for petty theft, possession of marijuana and grand theft.

Deputies saw him get out of the driver's side of a stolen vehicle sporting a stolen license plate and found his court papers from his previous appearances in the glove compartment, arrest reports state.

"He not only had one new charge but a second felony case" while previously on bond, Daly said.

Rushing set the bond, noting Frazier's strong ties to the community, as evidenced by the many family members sitting in court for the hearing.

John Frank can be reached at or (352) 754-6114.

Elderly victim's sympathy gets teen robber leniency 01/08/09 [Last modified: Sunday, January 11, 2009 5:25pm]
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