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Repeat burglar sentenced to 13 years

The man pleads no contest to a Hernando burglary and gets a stiff sentence because of his long criminal history.

By JAMIE MALERNEE

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 20, 2000


BROOKSVILLE -- A man accused of committing a rash of burglaries in Pasco County received 13 years in prison Monday for breaking into a Hernando County home.

Sanford Paul Butler, 39, of Bronson was caught after breaking into a house southeast of Brooksville.
Sanford Paul Butler's extensive criminal history factored into the stiff sentence he received for one count of burglary and one count of grand theft, said prosecutor George Angeliadis.

Angeliadis said that in the past 12 years, Butler has been convicted of eight counts of burglary to a dwelling, seven counts of car burglary, 12 counts of grand theft and three counts of dealing in stolen property.

"Had we gone to trial and he was convicted, he could have . . . gotten 30 years," Angeliadis added.

Instead, Butler, 39, of Bronson pleaded no contest to the Hernando charges and was sentenced by Circuit Judge Jack Springstead. It was the Hernando case that helped officials apprehend Butler in August 1997 after he stole more than $46,000 from several homes in central and east Pasco County, authorities say.

Butler was caught while going through the home of Albert Jordan, who lives southeast of Brooksville on Dan Brown Hill Road. Jordan arrived home on a Tuesday morning to find Butler leaving through the damaged front door, reports said. Butler dropped a jewelry box belonging to Jordan, hopped into a red Ford pickup with a white camper top, backed into Jordan's vehicle and drove over a table as he fled.

Jordan called authorities, who stopped the pickup. They said they found property from Jordan's house and from another burglary reported in Dade City earlier that day.

Authorities then identified Butler as the suspect officials had been looking for in a series of Pasco burglaries.

Butler used a screwdriver to break into homes in Dade City, San Antonio and Lacoochee, reports said. He is accused of stealing tools, computers, TVs, radios, coins and other easy-to-sell items that he unloaded on the streets of Tampa.

He was charged with nine counts of burglary, nine counts of grand theft and one count of attempted burglary in connection with the Pasco break-ins in 1997.

He is still awaiting trial in those cases.

In addition to being known for his many burglary charges, Butler is known for filing lawsuits against the Hernando County Jail, which is run by Corrections Corp. of America, and Warden Jim Cooke.

During the past two years, Butler has filed 17 lawsuits, alleging his constitutional rights have been violated because of inadequate access to a law library, inadequate counsel, the requirement that he make his bed each morning, and officials' failure to give him his blood-pressure medicine.

All but one of the suits are pending; the other was dismissed.

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