Judge Michael Fondi gave a young man a new lease on life Tuesday.
Michael J. Ray, an 18-year-old admitted armed robber, was given a probationary sentence after pleading guilty to pulling a knife on a man and demanding money. He faced a potential multi-year prison sentence.
Fondi pleaded with Ray to make an effort to straighten out before his criminal tendencies destroy his adult life. "Instead of being a bully, you should be a protector," he said.
Ray's prosecution started after a March 14 altercation with 63-year-old Roger DiMarzo in the parking lot of the Carson Nugget. The attempted robbery turned sour when DiMarzo resisted, hitting Ray. Ray was arrested a short time later in the parking lot of the Hardman House two blocks north.
The sentence was handed down at the request of Public Defender Steve McGuire and at the objection of Deputy District Attorney David Morandi.
McGuire argued that with the proper probationary supervision and alcohol and drug-free lifestyle, Ray could be a productive member of society.
"He is a young man that is salvageable at this point," he said. "He's got a past that indicates the alcohol and drug abuse."
Ray pleaded with Fondi for release, and promised to reform his life.
"All I can say is that I'm truly sorry," he said. "I'm tired of having the label of a troublemaker."
Fondi released Ray, with 106 days served in jail since his arrest, despite a juvenile criminal record that included arrests for batteries. He has spent time in two youth detention institutions.
As a condition of his release, Ray has to comply with a drug and alcohol program, and a suspended prison sentence of 16 to 72 months. If he fails probation, he will have to serve the prison sentence.