Woman who staged Cortland County home invasion sentenced

CORTLAND, N.Y. – A Tioga County woman who was the apparent ringleader of a plot to stage a home invasion and steal $3,000 from an elderly couple was sentenced Thursday to 1-3 years in state prison.

Janemarie Burke, 49, of Spencer, had previously pleaded guilty to grand larceny in the third degree, a felony, and has also been ordered to pay $3,000 in restitution.

According to court documents, Burke worked as a caregiver for an elderly couple that lived at a home on Route 11 in the town of Marathon.

On the night of Oct. 31, 2014, Burke called police to report that two black men wearing ski masks and gloves had broken into the home, punched her in the face twice and stole a safe that was located in the basement.


Janemarie Burke (Cortland County Sheriff's Office)

Her story, as investigators later figured out, was a farce.

Burke recruited her son, Ian Burke, along with Gage Hatch and Jennifer Kelly to carry out the plan.

Before delivering the sentence Thursday, Judge Julie Campbell referred to Burke's "sizable legal history related to theft" and substance abuse habits.

Burke's attorney, Randolph Kruman, argued that because Burke's crimes have been drug-related, she should be placed on felony probation with the option of pursuing drug treatment.

"Her lengthy gap in criminal history coincided with the time she did not use drugs," Kruman said, referring to a stretch of time where Burke was not involved in criminal activity.

Judge Campbell said she was "not convinced" by Kruman's argument.

"I've got an elderly couple who had a caregiver that was the ringleader, was encouraged to pursue treatment and she did not," she said. "Probation hasn't worked."

Cortland County District Attorney Mark Suben expressed a similar sentiment, saying the elderly couple was victimized by a person in whom they were given trust.

Burke expressed remorse during her sentencing but said she was not the ringleader in the stunt.

Court documents, however, suggest there were plenty of signs Burke was stealing items from the residence.

A few weeks prior to Burke's arrest, the elderly couple's son told investigators that he had noticed various items were missing from his house–and he suspected Burke was the culprit in the home invasion.

"Medication has been missing from the house, my mother's jewelry has come up missing," the couple's son told investigators. "Janemarie Burke was seen wearing one of my mother's rings. I should have fired her when the ring was on her finger."



Follow The Cortland Voice on Facebook | Twitter