A Lancaster man – deemed a “career criminal” by a judge and a prosecutor – will serve up to 37 years in prison for his latest crimes, which accounted for his 27th criminal conviction in the past 30 years.
James Fleetro Thomas was convicted at trial in March of burglary and several other charges, including reckless endangerment, for jumping from a moving vehicle on Fruitville Pike.
At sentencing Wednesday in Lancaster County Court, a prosecutor presented a binder full of Thomas’ criminal records, which spanned four decades.
“The time has at long last come to warehouse this man,” Assistant District Attorney Travis S. Anderson said in court.
County Judge Donald Totaro agreed with Anderson’s assessment of Thomas as a “career criminal,” and ordered a sentence of 13 to 27 years in prison – to be serve consecutively to a 5-to-10-year sentence ordered last month regarding a probation violation stemming from the latest charges.
That means Thomas, 49, will spend the next 18 to 37 years in prison.
“You have essentially done nothing except commit crimes since 1988,” Judge Totaro said. “You are a danger to society.”
The sentence caused Thomas to curse and briefly struggle with deputy sheriffs while demanding that he be taken out of the courtroom. Judge Totaro didn’t allow that until reading Thomas his appeal rights.
“You can look all the (expletive) you want!” Thomas said as he was led out of the room in handcuffs.
The latest conviction regarded a burglary in East Lampeter Township and possession of stolen property, taken from a burglary in Manheim Township. People were home at the time of those burglaries. Police found a stun gun next to the stolen loot at Thomas’ home.
“If the occupants heard him [inside their homes], he was prepared to incapacitate them,” Anderson said.
Thomas also was convicted of reckless endangerment for jumping from a moving vehicle, as police pursued him. (Thomas was driving a vehicle stolen from the Manheim Township burglary.)
Manheim Township police Officer John Donnelley caught up with the moving vehicle, on foot, before it struck any other vehicles on the roadway.
East Lampeter Township police Detective Christopher Jones and Manheim Township police Detective Nicholas Fritz filed charges.
Assistant District Attorney Samantha Laverty assisted in the prosecution.
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