On the 12th anniversary of the crime he committed in Lewisburg, a Michigan man was sentenced after pleading guilty.
Carl Edward Gentile, 54, of Pontiac, Mich., was sentenced to five years in prison, of which he must serve at least 35 percent before being eligible for parole.
Gentile was indicted in July 1999, accused of stealing $2,304.97 from the Lewisburg Burger King on June 8, 1999. As manager of the restaurant, Gentile's duty was to deposit the money in the bank, but he kept it for himself and returned to Michigan.
Testifying during his sentencing hearing, Gentile explained he came to Tennessee in 1999 with a friend when they got out of rehab in Michigan, thinking being in a new place would help him stay away from drugs. However, he started dating a woman who "knew where the drugs were" and he was "back into the same old pattern," culminating with the Burger King theft to support his crack habit.
Documents in his case file show Gentile's criminal record dates back to 1975. He has served two prison terms, and been in and out of many rehabilitation programs.
"My whole life has revolved around drugs," Gentile admitted to Assistant District Attorney Bud Bottoms.
According to the pre-sentence report by Crystal Gray of the Board of Probation and Parole, Gentile has finally turned his life around and has, as he testified, been clean since 2006.
"This period has been the best of my life, except for health issues," he told her. "I've been clean, had my own place, bills paid, was being responsible, going to college, attending three meetings a week, taking my medication. I got my license back, bought a car. Doing well and satisfied with my life for the first time."
On the witness stand, Gentile added that he has re-established contact with his two children, met his grandchildren, and celebrated his first Christmas with them.
Bill Harold of the Public Defender's Office, representing Gentile, asked him what he would like to do.
"I'd like to go back to Michigan and get on with my new life," Gentile said. "For the first time I'm happy. I have a family there."
Harold pointed out to Circuit Court Judge Robert Crigler that Gentile would be difficult and expensive to house in prison due to his many physical and mental health issues: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, hepatitis C, cirrhosis of the liver, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Gentile stated to Gray that his life expectancy was estimated at five years.
"These old cases are always difficult," Crigler said, as he considered whether to grant probation. At last the judge said, "I respectfully deny alternative sentencing," explaining that the long history of criminal conduct, and previous unsuccessful probation led him to believe Gentile had a "poor potential for rehabilitation."
Gentile was also ordered to make restitution to Burger King. He has jail credit since he was picked up in Michigan on Jan. 30.
Later in the same Circuit Court session Gentile waived his right to appeal.
Also sentenced was Anthony McMillan, 21, of South Ellington Parkway, who pleaded guilty to the sale and delivery of marijuana to a confidential informant working for the 17th Judicial District Drug Task Force.
"This is a big turning point in this young man's life," said Michael Collins of the Public Defender's Office, defending McMillan. "At this point, he can still straighten up and do something productive; turn his life around."
Crigler took into account that McMillan had allegedly committed other crimes while out on bond for the one he was pleading guilty to, and said he was inclined to think McMillan had "poor potential" for rehabilitation.
"You need to serve some time for this," Crigler said, sentencing McMillan to one year at 30 percent, ordering him to pay a $2,000 fine, and revoking his bond.