KEITH WHITCOMB JR.
BENNINGTON -- A judge who called the breadth of a Shaftsbury man's theft related crimes "staggering" sentenced the 25-year-old to serve between three and 15 years in prison Thursday in Bennington Superior Court Criminal Division.
Eric Lambert pleaded guilty to six burglary offenses, four counts of sale of stolen property, two counts of grand larceny, two charges of violating his curfew, and one count each of petit larceny, unlawful trespass, false information to police, possession of marijuana, prescription fraud, and possession of burglary tools. The 20 crimes spanned 18 separate criminal dockets.
Victim's Advocate Tammy Loveland said Lambert agreed to pay restitution to four victims whose total losses were listed as over $10,000. Loveland said some items were recovered and returned, and because a number of Lambert's victims were his family members many did not seek restitution orders.
Lambert was charged with the first round of burglaries in April and pleaded not guilty. More charges were added as the extent of his activities became known, and after being charged with violating his court imposed curfews his conditions were tightened. Lambert was finally ordered held without bail in late June after being charged with burglarizing the neighbors of the person he was living with in Shaftsbury under curfew, as well as stealing from her.
"The breadth of your crimes is actually quite staggering," said Judge Cortland Corsones. "Just trying to read about them is staggering."
Corsones said a large number of people would not be sleeping tonight feeling like they were safe and noted how the victims who gave statements either spoke to the court or in writing said they felt like they had to lock their doors now and have installed security cameras.
"Initially I'm struck by the fact that, really what a waste it is for you to have to spend three years minimum in jail," Corsones said. "You come across as intelligent, well-spoken person. I'm sure when you're sober you're a very good father for your daughter. You could be out working, you could be a productive member of society, and being a good help-mate for the mother of your child as well as actually first-hand raising your child. You could be doing that. Obviously you're not going to be doing that. There's very good reasons why you're not going to be doing that, and that is because of the necessary punishment for the crimes that you did."
Only a few victims read actual statements to the court.
"I think about Eric Lambert every day after I put my jewelry on," said Tracy Schwarz, whose home Lambert entered after he went up into the driveway and spoke to Schwarz, giving her a false name and claiming he was looking for a friend. She shares the home with George Krawczyk, who lost a 1969 Mount Anthony Union High School class ring in the theft.
Schwarz, an employee at the State's Attorney's Office, said she hopes Lambert will get treatment for drug addiction while in prison and learn to lead a productive life so he can pass those skills to his child.
Elizabeth Koenig, who allowed Lambert to live with her in Shaftsbury under a 24-hour curfew after he was released from court on conditions, said Lambert's thefts from her and her neighbors had left her feeling unsafe and she has since acquired a pet dog.
Lambert's attorney, Lamar Enzor, said his client became addicted to prescription drugs after a car crash a few years ago in which Lambert was severely injured. He said Lambert understands addiction is not an excuse for his behavior.
"I would like to apologize to the people I have affected," said Lambert. "Especially the ones I love the most."
Lambert said he feels as though he is on track to turn his life around and has been doing well working in the kitchen at the Marble Valley Correctional Facility in Rutland. He offered to take a drug test in response to a request Schwarz made, but Corsones said because Lambert is going to jail the court does not have the power to order such a test.
According to police, Lambert primarily stole items from family members and people he knew but on a number of occasions stole from strangers.