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May 23, 2013

Woman receives probation for drugstore break-ins

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — A Cambria woman will spend six months in Niagara County Jail and then five years on probation for a pair of 2011 drugstore break-ins.

Katherine E. Billingsley, 22, was sentenced Wednesday by Niagara County Judge Sara S. Farkas. In March, Billingsley admitted to third-degree burglary.

Assistant District Attorney Joseph A. Scalzo said Billingsley drove burglar Alexander Shelbayeh, 23, of Wilson, to a pharmacy in Wilson and another in Newfane. She didn’t enter either place, but will still pay $2,500 in restitution. Shelbayeh was sentenced to state prison.

The sentence and plea deal covered Billingsley’s involvement in a forgery scam using checks stolen from a Cambria man last fall. Co-defendant Shane Phillips, 25, also of Cambria, was charged in the check scam.

Billingsley said she was concerned Farkas, or Lockport City Judge William Watson, would not allow her to see Phillips as part of the probation. Farkas sent Billingsley to the Lockport city drug court program.

That’s because the two were more than co-defendants, according to Billingsley, who called Phillips her soulmate.

Scalzo said Phillips had a history, being sentenced for misdemeanors as far back as 2006. Farkas questioned whether or not Billingsley was making her recovery a priority, otherwise Billingsley was setting herself up for failure.

“Give love a chance,” she said to Farkas.

Billingsley’s attorney, Dominic Saraceno, said allowing the two to see each other could create a support system that would help both in their recovery. She is sincere in her feelings, Saraceno said of his client.

Billingsley said she was sober and planned on going back to school. She claimed to have taken the plea because she did not want to go to prison but also wanted to see Phillips.

Farkas said Billingsley could be successful on her own, but would allow Billingsley to see Phillips.

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