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Basketball Fan
07-30-2011, 08:17 PM
http://dailylocal.com/articles/2011/07/28/news/doc4e31e39b84c5e621390432.txt?viewmode=fullstory


Local NBA referee's house robbed by son's friend
Published: Thursday, July 28, 2011

0diggsdigg ShareThis4By MICHAEL P. RELLAHAN
WEST CHESTER — Over the years that he knew John Jardine, NBA referee Mark Wunderlich did the young man countless favors — taking him to basketball All-Star games, getting him autographs of players, and arranging to have him stand next to the stars for photos.

But it is what may be the last act of kindness that Wunderlich does for the former family friend that perhaps Jardine will remember most: The referee asked prosecution authorities to keep the 21-year-old heroin addict out of a state prison cell.

Jardine, of West Goshen, pleaded guilty on Thursday to charges of burglary, criminal conspiracy and related charges for engineering a nighttime break-in at Wunderlich’s Westtown home with another man in June 2010. He was sentenced as part of a plea agreement to 11½ to 23 months in Chester County Prison, although he will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 15 months of the sentence.

Normally, a 15-month prison term would have to be spent in a state correctional institution. But according to Assistant District Attorney Ann Marie Wheatcraft, who prosecuted the case, Wunderlich had requested that Jardine be kept from that fate.

“He was very specific,” Wheatcraft told Common Pleas Court Judge Anthony Sarcione in proposing the plea agreement she had worked out with Jardine’s attorney, Robert J. Donatoni, of West Chester. “After all this, he still likes the defendant. He did not think he would make it in state prison.”

Sarcione, who said he found what Jardine had done offensive, nevertheless accepted the terms of the plea agreement and approved the sentence.

“This says a lot about (Wunderlich),” Sarcione told Jardine. “Here’s a fellow who befriends you, takes you under his wing” and still finds it within his heart to recommend some leniency in the case after his trust and sense of security had been violated. “I hope you appreciate the seriousness of what you did. I’m sure those people feel differently about their home now that it has been violated by you.”

Jardine said little, however, during the brief proceeding. He answered Sarcione’s questions about whether he knew what he was doing by pleading guilty, but did not offer any explanation behind why he helped burglarize the Wunderlich home.

According to court records, Wunderlich and his wife woke up the morning of June 1, 2010, and found items missing from their home in the Oakbourne section of Westtown. Missing were Ellen Wunderluch’s purse, a $2,000 laptop computer, a GPS unit, and keys to the couple’s Lexus.

Police said that Wunderlich believed that someone had opened the unlocked door of their Lincoln SUV that was parked outside the house and used the automatic garage door opener inside to get access to the house. He said he remembered hearing the garage door open and close at about 4 a.m., but did not investigate. Continued...

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Later that day and on June 3, 2010, police recovered items from Ellen Wunderlich’s purse that had been strewn across Westtown-Thornton Road near where they lived. Police recovered credit cards and identification, as well as the car keys and other papers.

On June 2, Westtown-East Goshen Detective Robert Balchunis, who was investigating the case, got information from West Goshen police that a similar crime had occurred on Applegate Drive in that township. A security video installed by a resident there captured an image of a silver Mazda used in the break-in.

Two weeks later, Balchunis was on patrol when he spotted a silver Mazda speeding in the township. He pulled the car over and spoke to the driver, Jardine. During a subsequent interview, Jardine admitted to the break-in.

Jardine said that he and a Delaware County man, Robert Siter, had gone to the Wunderlichs’ home. Jardine had opened the SUV and retrieved the automatic opener, which he then gave to Siter, who used it to go into the house and take the laptop and the purse.

Jardine eventually agreed to record a telephone conversation about the crime with Siter, who admitted to the burglary and brought back the laptop. Siter, of Media, was later sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison for the burglary. Wheatcraft told Sarcione that he had a more extensive criminal history than did Jardine.

Jardine, however, was on probation for a 2009 DUI and drug paraphernalia possession case when he and Siter committed the burglary. After cooperating with police in the burglary case, he broke probation and fled to Florida, where he was picked up on a bench warrant in Key West, Fla., in April.

Wheatcraft told Sarcione that the Wunderlichs — who were not in court for the proceeding Thursday — had been distraught about the break-in after it occurred because they did not know who might have targeted them. When they learned that Jardine had been involved, they were upset.

“Mr. Wunderlich was very offended that this happened,” Wheatcraft said. He had “treated the defendant very well, taking him to All-Star games and introducing him to players” in his position as an NBA ref. He said that if only the defendant had come to him and said, ‘Listen, I did something really stupid,’ he would have understood.”

Nevertheless, “he did not want him to go to state prison,” Wheatcraft said.

A native of Delaware County, Wunderlich, 53, is one of a number of current and former NBA referees who have ties to the Delaware Valley, including Steve Javie, Joe Crawford, and Tom Washington. He is in his 21st season as a referee. Continued...

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Jardine’s sentence states that he will not be able to get time off for good behavior, and that he will not be eligible for any work release programs. If he does not participate in the prison’s drug rehab program, however, Sarcione could take that into account in deciding whether to grant him parole after 15 months, Donation said.

In sentencing Jardine, the judge spoke harshly about the crime of breaking into someone’s home, especially when they are at home, and had some pointed advice for the defendant.

“Chester County does not like burglary,” Sarcione said. “It destroys our sense of community. I hope you get off this heroin, young man. It’s making you into a monster.”

Frostwolf
07-31-2011, 06:35 AM
good man.