Champaign man who admitted break-in gets eight years

URBANA — A Champaign man who admitted breaking into a former girlfriend's home and stealing a safe containing a gun was sentenced Thursday to eight years in prison.

Cassius Clark, 26, of the 500 block of South Victor Street pleaded guilty in May to residential burglary for breaking into the woman's home in the 300 block of Kenwood Road, Champaign. The break-in occurred March 6 and involved a second man, Corey P. Hill, 18, of Champaign.

Hill, who had no prior criminal record, was sentenced in April to two years of probation after pleading guilty to burglary.

Assistant State's Attorney Troy Lozar sought a nine-year prison sentence for Clark, who had prior convictions for mob action, criminal damage to property and harassment of a witness. He had agreed to seek no more than 10, even though Clark was eligible for up to 15 years.

Lozar noted that Clark had multiple opportunities previously to deal with his alcohol and drug addiction in the community.

Clark's attorney, Assistant Public Defender George Vargas, argued that Clark had pleaded guilty and helped police recover the stolen gun, which was in the hands of a third person. He also noted that his client was found to be addicted to alcohol, cocaine and cannabis and was turning a corner in dealing with the addictions before his "stupid and childish" decision to get even with the girlfriend for hitting him by breaking into her home with Hill.

Clark apologized to the woman and her family, his own family and the judge and asked for a minimal prison term so he could be a father to a young daughter.

Difanis agreed to recommend Clark for substance abuse treatment in the penitentiary.

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