CAROL DEMARE Staff writer
Section: CAPITAL REGION,  Page: C4

Date: Sunday, January 24, 1993

A young thief, who broke into numerous city homes and made off with all kinds of loot, is going to state prison - something that wasn`t supposed to

happen in his case.

Walter E. Huba, 17, was sentenced Friday by County Judge John G. Turner Jr. to 1 1/3 to 4 years and was immediately taken by deputy sheriffs to the

county jail to await transfer to a state facility.

Even though he initially faced a 13-count indictment charging

burglary, grand larceny and petit larceny, Huba wasn`t supposed to go to

prison or even do jail time. According to a plea bargain worked out between his attorney, Michael C. Magguilli, and District Attorney Sol Greenberg, Huba was to get a straight

five years on probation for his guilty plea to third- degree grand larceny, a felony. He also was going to have to make restitution to all of his victims. After he pleaded guilty on Dec. 8, one of the conditions attached to

his being allowed to remain free on $15,000 bail pending his sentencing on

Jan. 8 was that he stay out of trouble. But he didn`t.

On Dec. 29 he was arrested for public lewdness, a misdemeanor, for

allegedly urinating on the street at Madison Avenue and Ontario Street, where he gathered with other kids. He also had an open bottle of wine, according to police records. The case is pending in City Court.

That arrest meant all bets were off with the plea bargain, and Turner

was not bound by the offer of a probationary term. The sentencing date was

adjourned for two weeks.

On Friday, when Huba appeared before Turner, the judge was angry and

not only gave the young man a prison term but denied him youthful offender

status, summarily dismissing an impassioned request for it from Magguilli, the attorney retained for Huba by his parents.

That status would have meant his criminal record would be sealed, and

it would appear as though Huba was never convicted of a crime.

Huba told the court he was sorry for what he did and everyone he hurt, his parents and the victims. "I hope to do better in the future," he said.

His mother, Linda Huba, cried as she and Richard Huba, his father, left the courtroom and their son headed to jail. Huba, an Albany High School

junior, lived with his parents at 24 Forest Ave.

Also crying was Eleanor Koblenz - one of Huba`s victims whose Milner

Avenue home he ransacked. She feels justice was served now that he`s going


Before the sentencing, Koblenz was allowed to read a victim impact

statement. She told Huba his misdeeds caused her to lose family heirloom

jewelry she wanted to pass on to her grandchildren.

"Your little jaunt into my home on a sunny Wednesday afternoon in March last year has caused me a great deal of pain," she told Huba.

Huba`s guilty plea satisfied the 13-count indictment accusing him of

seven counts of second-degree burglary involving break-ins last January

through May of homes on Prospect Terrace, Kakely Street, Davis Avnue, Milner

Avenue, Hollywood Avenue and West Lawrence Street, all in Albany. The

remaining counts of grand larceny and petit larceny involve items stolen from the homes, such as videocassette recorders, television sets, cameras, jewelry and a leather jacket.

At the time of his arrest on May 3, city detectives said the young

burglars - Huba had two juvenile accomplices whose cases were handled in

Family Court - may have pulled off dozens of break-ins in the Pine Hills and

New Scotland Avenue neighborhoods of the city. Police estimated the value of

the goods stolen at about $25,000, most of which was sold or pawned.

No one seems to know how Walter Huba, at first, got a sentence that

called for probation but no jail time.

There was no leniency in the sentencing this month of Carlos Juan Olmo, 23, of Albany and Francisco Torres-Morales, 28, of Plattsburgh, each of whom

got 3 to 9 years for pleading guilty to burglarizing homes in Guilderand and

New Scotland. In their case some of the victims were home. In the Huba case

none were.

And there was no probation for Paul L. Wilcox, 18, of Cohoes, who was

sentenced last month to 1 to 3 years for grand larceny involving the break-in of a Cohoes home and the theft of a handgun.

In the Huba case, his attorney, Magguilli, said that Assistant District Attorney Michael Katzer, intially offered 1 1/3 to 4 years in prison.

"I didn`t like it, so I asked to talk to Sol Greenberg with Mike

Katzer`s knowledge and consent," Magguilli said. He said he felt the offer was too harsh, since Huba was a 16-year-old with no prior record. He said he told Greenberg that Huba had a "certain learning disability," and the five years on probation with restitution was agreed upon.

"I don`t think it was a break," Magguilli said. "I think it was a fair sentence given his background and the circumstances surrounding the case."

Greenberg said Magguilli was just one of many lawyers who approach him on behalf of their clients. The district attorney said he had no objection to the five years on probation, but wanted Huba to get some jail time even though that did not end up being part of the plea bargain.

Asked if Huba got a break, Greenberg said "Absolutely not." If a

defendant violates probation he can be sent to prison, he pointed out.

Huba was not treated as a special case, he said. "I don`t know what he was, who he is, where he`s from. I have no idea," Greenberg said, adding he

was pleased with the outcome of a prison term.

Asked if Huba got a break, Katzer said, "I would have to refer you to

Judge Turner`s comments, which indicated the original plea bargain was more

lenient than I would have liked."