2 men sentenced in Dryden burglary

ITHACA, N.Y. – An Elmira man pleaded guilty Wednesday afternoon to stealing jewelry from an elderly woman's home.

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Jeremy Leitch, 34, was previously convicted of second-degree burglary and sentenced to three years in prison and five years of post-release supervision as part of a plea deal.

A restitution hearing happened Wednesday before the sentencing to determine the worth of the jewelry.

On Sept. 2, Leitch allegedly broke into a home in Dryden, breaking down the basement door and stealing a wooden jewelry box.

According to the victim, the jewelry box contained pieces of gold, silver and jade, some of which were purchased in China, as well as family heirlooms over 65 years old.

Defense Attorney David Bahn called into question the victim’s original complaint that was made to the state troopers directly after the burglary. In her complaint, the woman listed that “several pieces of costume jewelry” were among the jewelry box’s contents. Bahn argued that the estimated amounts listed on the victim’s statement were far too high.

Assistant District Attorney Gary Surdell suggested that the victim could have been upset during the time her initial complaint was drafted, but that an itemized list -- which was made later -- with estimated values for the stolen jewelry was a reliable source.

“The victim is the best person to describe what was taken from her,” said Surdell.

Judge John Rowley agreed with Surdell and determined that the jewelry listed by the victim was properly estimated.

Due to poor health conditions, the victim of the burglary was represented in court by her daughter, Susan Cornelius. Both the victim and her daughter assisted in apprehending Leitch after sighting his car in Ithaca and following him while on the phone with 911 until police arrived.

Leitch did not make comments during the proceeding.

“He doesn’t want to testify against individuals, as he stated, he victimized.” Bahn

Leitch will have to pay $1,995.92 in restitution.

His co-defendant Thomas Householder was also sentenced Wednesday.

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Featured photo by Brian Turner of Flikr.