BELLEFONTE — Maksim Illarionov and Anatoliy Veretnov, two of the three men convicted last month in a spree of local burglaries and robberies, will spend more than 30 years behind bars in a state prison for the crimes.
Illarionov, 23, described by prosecutors as the ringleader from the spree in 2009 and 2010, was sentenced Friday to 37 to 74 years and received credit for 168 days served. He’s already serving 15 to 30 years in state prison for a conviction earlier this year on illegal firearms possession charges.
Veretnov, 28, was sentenced to 30 to 61 years in state prison for his crimes related to the spree. He received credit for 785 days served.
Sentencing for the third co-defendant, Dmitriy Litvinov, 25, was continued to a future date.
Before Illarionov and Veretnov were returned to the Centre County Correctional Facility after their sentencings by President Judge Thomas King Kistler, both were given the opportunity to meet with their mothers.
State College residents William and June Clarke were the only victims to attend the sentencings. William Clarke read a statement to the court during Illarionov’s sentencing, while District Attorney Stacy Parks Miller read a statement from June Clarke.
The Clarkes were out of town when their home was broken into in December 2009.
“From that point on, neither of us have slept well,” William Clarke said. “Before I go to bed I lock every door, check every window.”
Clarke said he believes the stress of the situation contributed to her cancer diagnosis, and that the defendants changed their lives forever.
“But we still have what is most important — each other,” he said. “We will overcome this and I do believe she will overcome the cancer and we will live out our lives together.”
Both men received the most prison time, 15 to 30 years apiece, for the February 2010 robbery of the Dollar General store in Centre Hall. Kistler said the court found guns were used in the crime, and that there were three victims, resulting in consecutive sentences for the counts of robbery with the threat of serious bodily injury.
Illarionov received smaller sentences for many other crimes in the spree after his attorney, Dan Nelson, argued that the court “shouldn’t just throw away the key” and should allow Illarionov rehabilitation opportunities.
“There was some serious criminal activity going on there,” Nelson said, referencing Illarionov’s previous record. “We can’t explain that away. I know that victims are going to speak and it’s a significant impact on their lives. We could put him away for 100 years. That’s not fair. That’s not just.”
Parks Miller said Illarionov had a “complete disregard” for the consequences of his crimes.
“When you talk about rehabilitation, I think he’s pretty much shown he’s not amenable to treatment,” she said. “He won’t get out until he’s an old man. That’s because of the sheer number of crimes he has committed.”
Illarionov made a brief statement, saying that he has learned about the impact of committing crimes.
“I’ve learned that crime hurts,” he said. “Crime hurts a lot. These people deserve justice.”
Kistler said the court is “saddened” by the circumstances in the case and that the community has suffered at the hands of someone who could have made different decisions.
“I think it’s hopeful that Mr. Illarionov does recognize that crime does have an impact,” he said. “I hope that, from a recovery standpoint, that that is something you want us to believe and not just something you’re saying.”
Veretnov, whose previously long hair had been cut, faced fewer, but more serious charges.
While Kistler acknowledged that Veretnov spent less time involved with the crime spree, he said that was “irrelevant” in sentencing.
Parks Miller said the court had to consider Veretnov’s role, as the man who knew how to acquire firearms.
“He essentially was the one who turned the group from a burglary ring into a robbery ring,” she said. “He’s a danger in his own right.”
Veretnov was sentenced to five to 10 years in the robbery of The Bar in Boalsburg, and three to six years, to be served concurrently, for conspiring to commit robbery in that case. Six to 12 months were added for the simple assault of a woman.
He was also sentenced on charges related to the kidnapping and robbery of a man at gunpoint. He received 10 to 20 years in prison for that case, with conspiracy sentences to be served concurrently.
The men were convicted during their second trial last month. The judge declared a mistrial in 2011 when co-defendant Alexei Semionov pleaded guilty during trial. He was sentenced to 36 years in prison but has filed an appeal.
Parks Miller said she hopes the victims can now start to move on.
“These sentences cannot give the victims back the security or peace of mind the defendants stole from them during these terrifying crimes, but we do hope that today gives them a sense of finality and contributes to their healing process,” she said.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter.