A Carroll judge shaved 15 years yesterday from the 25-year prison sentence being served by Robert Ernest Emmons Jr., a Baltimore man convicted of committing a string of burglaries in three suburban counties with former state health official John Martin Staubitz Jr.
Arguing that her client's sentence should be more in line with the nine years and 11 months Staubitz is serving for the same crimes, Carroll Public Defender Barbara Kreinar persuaded Judge Francis M. Arnold to reduce Emmons' sentence to 10 years in prison.
Probation and parole officials said Emmons could be eligible for parole in less than two years.
"It was a matter of fundamental fairness," Ms. Kreinar said after the sentence-reduction hearing. She said Emmons' testimony against Staubitz -- and his cooperation with law enforcement officials in Baltimore, Carroll and Howard counties -- was useful in securing a conviction against Staubitz, the former No. 2 official in the state health department.
Staubitz, who was a deputy state health secretary, was sentenced last month for burglarizing four homes and one business in Carroll County during September 1993. He is serving the sentence concurrently with an eight-year term for an April 1994 conviction in five Baltimore County burglaries.
After his conviction by a jury in Baltimore County, Staubitz pleaded guilty to the Carroll County cases and paid nearly $20,000 in restitution. As part of the plea arrangement, Staubitz agreed to dismiss his appeal to the Court of Special Appeals on all of his convictions in Baltimore County Circuit Court.
Emmons, the star prosecution witness in the Baltimore County cases, had pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other charges tied to four of the Carroll break-ins in March 1994, and later entered another guilty plea to a conspiracy charge tied to three Howard County burglaries.
Judge Arnold imposed a total of 25 years for the convictions. He ordered that the sentence be served concurrently with the 20-year term Emmons received in January 1994 after pleading guilty in Baltimore County Circuit Court to two counts of daytime housebreaking.
According to court records and testimony, the two men, who met in prison, stole nearly $100,000 worth of jewelry, electronics, guns and other valuables.
Staubitz was released from prison in February 1993 after serving a sentence for skimming thousands of dollars from the State Games, a program he supervised as the No. 2 health department official. He had been convicted in May 1992 of conspiracy to commit misconduct in office.