Tire slasher gets work-release jail sentence - and 30 years' probation

Posted: January 27, 2014

HARRY GAINES, the West Philadelphia man arrested last January for slashing the tires of 56 parked cars in the neighborhood, was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in jail yesterday.

The sentence, handed down by Common Pleas Judge Rayford Means, will allow Gaines to be released during the day to work and return to jail at night.

Work release, the judge said, will give Gaines, 28, the ability to find a job to pay restitution - estimated at $5,000 - to his victims.

Means also sentenced Gaines to serve 30 years of probation and ordered him to cooperate with the District Attorney's Office in the prosecution of his codefendant and stepsister, Aleze Lewis, 37. Her trial is scheduled for March.

Gaines, who has been jailed for about a year, pleaded guilty in November to 56 counts of conspiracy, criminal mischief and possession of an instrument of crime.

Surveillance cameras captured Gaines and an accomplice slashing the tires of cars along Hazel Avenue between 47th and 50th streets and on Chancellor Street near 53rd early Jan. 7 last year.

Gaines could have faced a maximum of 308 years in prison, but at a minimum should have been sentenced to five to 10 years behind bars, Assistant District Attorney Allison Pavero told the judge.

The judge, at first, agreed, and slapped Gaines with five to 10 years, only to change his mind when defense lawyer Geoffrey Kilroy protested that state sentencing guidelines call for a term of 12 months or fewer.

Kilroy said Gaines slashed the tires after stumbling out of a bar "stupid drunk." Now he's remorseful and wants to pay restitution to the victims, Kilroy said, rather than burden taxpayers who've already spent more than $43,000 to keep him jailed.

Pavero didn't buy it, and argued that such crimes drive hardworking people out of the city.

"Why would you live in the city of Philadelphia when you can't even park your car outside of your house?" she asked after the hearing.

Gaines apologized to his victims and said he would find a job. His sister, Pamela Williams, told Means that her brother's vodka binge the night of the slashings was fueled by the anniversary of the death of his child's mother, and because his mother was ill.


On Twitter: @MensahDean

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