Orange County District Attorney David M. Hoovler announced that on Friday, December 2, 2016, Sean Leath, 35 of Middletown, pleaded guilty to Burglary in the First Degree. At the time Leath pleaded guilty, he admitted that on April 23, 2016 he had forced his way into an apartment on North Street in the City of Middletown, and displayed what appeared to be a pistol. Under the terms of the plea agreement, which were placed on the record at the time of the plea, Leath will be sentenced to twenty years in state prison when he is sentenced by Judge Craig Stephen Brown.
Jury selection had commenced in the case on November 30, 2016. Prosecutors subsequently became aware of allegations that Leath had caused a witness in the case to be paid $2,500 in exchange for changing his testimony and not identifying Leath as a perpetrator in the April 23, 2016 burglary. Evidence concerning those allegations was brought to the attention of the judge, as well as to Leath’s attorney. Under the terms of the plea agreement placed on the record at the time of Leath’s plea of guilty, Leath agreed that on Monday, December 5, 2016, he will also plead guilty to the felony of Attempted Bribing a Witness, and that whatever sentence he receives on that case will run concurrently with the twenty year state prison sentence that he will receive on the burglary charge. The District Attorney’s Office has commenced an investigation into whether other individuals may have been involved in an attempt to bribe the witness.
District Attorney Hoovler thanked the City of Middletown Police Department for their arrest and investigation of the case. District Attorney Hoovler also thanked the Orange County Sheriff’s Office for their assistance in the investigation into the bribing of the witness.
“The community will be safer during the two decades that this defendant will be in prison,” said District Attorney Hoovler. “This defendant admitted invading a home with what appeared to be a pistol. Such violent conduct, particularly in an area where everyone deserves to feel safe, is clearly deserving of a lengthy state prison sentence. The bribing or tampering of a witness is a crime which strikes directly to the heart of the criminal justice system and my office, along with our law enforcement partners, will seek to bring to justice anyone criminally involved in such schemes. I am pleased that this attempt to illegally influence a witness’ testimony was thwarted, and our investigation into this matter will not conclude with this defendant’s plea of guilty.”
District Attorney Hoovler highly commended Senior Assistant District Attorney Leah Canton and Assistant District Attorney Theresa Cayton for their prosecution of the case.
A criminal charge is merely an allegation that a defendant has committed a violation of the criminal law, and it is not evidence of guilt. All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the State of New York’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.