Casino-winnings robbery brings 30-year prison sentence

Casino-winnings robbery brings 30-year prison sentence

URBANA — A Peoria man who targeted a winner at a casino craps table for his loot has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

The sentence was the maximum that Champaign County Judge Tom Difanis could have imposed on Marvino Mister, 24, convicted of the April 12 armed robbery of a then-University of Illinois student who had just returned from the Par-A-Dice casino in East Peoria with $23,000 in winnings.

A jury convicted Mister in December of holding up Sean Harrigan, then 23, in the underground parking garage of his apartment at 512 S. Third St., C.

Evidence — much of it from video surveillance cameras inside and outside of the casino — established that Mister and co-defendant John Williamson, 28, spotted Harrigan at the craps table, kept an eye on him for the several hours he was there, then followed him and his two friends home on Interstate 74 from East Peoria to Champaign.

The holdup occurred about 6 a.m. as Harrigan and his friends were getting out of their car. Harrigan, the driver, saw a man walking up to him quickly. He then quickly sat on most of the cash as the robber stuck a gun in his face and demanded the money. He told the robber he didn't have any. But when the robber threatened to start shooting his friends, he handed over about $2,500 in cash that was in his pants pocket and a cellphone.

Mister and Williamson, also of Peoria, were developed as suspects by casino security people who reviewed the surveillance tapes.

Assistant State's Attorney Lindsey Clark asked for the maximum 30-year sentence, calling the crime "highly meditated" by a man with a long criminal history that started when he was a juvenile. He had convictions for burglary, theft, and possession of a controlled substance and drug paraphernalia as a juvenile, and possession with intent to deliver a controlled substance and residential burglary as an adult. He was still on parole for the residential burglary at the time of the armed robbery.

Defense attorney Harvey Welch of Urbana asked for a lesser sentence, noting Mister's troubled upbringing and his history of substance abuse.

The cash and the gun were never recovered. The two men were arrested in Peoria about a week after the robbery.

Mister apologized for his behavior and said he hoped he could learn from his mistakes.

"Whatever the court imposes, it's a lesson learned and not the end of the world," he said. "If the victim was here, I would want to apologize for his loss and what he went through that night."

Difanis said a long sentence was needed to deter others from trying something similar.

"We need to protect people on the street from having a gun stuck in their face and their property taken from them," he said.

Williamson's case is unresolved. He's due back in court Jan. 29.

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rsp wrote on January 18, 2013 at 9:01 pm

$2500 at 30 year comes out to less than $7 a month. For one person. Anyone think for one week they thought crime paid? Anyone think they still believe that? How much will the world change in 30 years. How many of their friends remember them next month. Their families.