CASPER, Wyo. — A Casper man who pleaded guilty to a string of auto burglaries last year appeared before Natrona County District Court Judge Dan Forgey for sentencing on Wednesday, April 12.
Jason Max Braham, 32, had pleaded guilty in October to four counts of auto burglary, a count of grand theft, and a count of child endangerment.
The only plea deal was that the sentences would run concurrently. The attorneys made their cases for Forgey’s consideration on Wednesday.
Assistant District Attorney Blaine Nelson noted that presentence investigators found Braham “may” be suitable for probation, and that he had done well on bond.
Nelson added that the Department of Family Services had also given Braham a “favorable” report. DFS became involved after the burglary investigation led to the discovery of over 200 needles and drug paraphernalia in the home Braham shared with his wife, Autum Parker, and two of their children.
Casper police also found property including wallets and IDs that traced back to 10 auto burglaries last May and June.
Police also charged Parker with child endangerment and conspiracy to commit auto burglary. According to the affidavit, Braham consulted with Parker by text while Braham was casing vehicles and deliberating which ones to burglarize. Parker pleaded guilty to the charges, according to court records.
Braham has also agreed to pay $6,549.62 in restitution to three of the auto burglary victims. The sum includes lost property and purchases on stolen credit cards.
Despite that sum, Nelson told the court that some of the crimes’ impacts could not be mitigated; namely the loss of security and privacy. One victim lost a stethoscope that had been given to her upon graduation from medical school, Nelson said.
Impact statements offered to the court show the victims felt a lingering unease and ongoing concerns about identity theft, Nelson said.
Nelson ultimately recommended a seven- to 10-year sentence on the highest charges.
Nelson further advised that the crimes echoed Braham’s previous felony theft charges in the state of Utah in 2010. Braham said he received a one- to 10-year sentence.
Joseph Cole, Braham’s attorney, acknowledged that his client “went on a crime spree.” Cole said that since Braham’s release from Utah’s prison system on the 2010 charges, he had done well and only fell back on old habits after falling into financial straits.
Since getting out on bond in this case 10 months ago, Cole said Braham had maintained steady employment and had a newborn child.
“He dug himself out of that pit and he can keep himself out of that pit,” Cole said. He added that an imposed prison term would effectively undo the strides Braham had taken to integrate into the community.
“I work every day and take care of my family,” Braham said, adding that he drove a truck for an energy company. “I made bad choices, I’d be the first to admit.”
“The victim impact statements weigh on my mind, and I hope Mr. Braham takes those to heart,” Judge Forgey said as he considered sentencing options, also noting that “He’s shown some really good progress.”
Judge Forgey ultimately rendered a seven- to 10-year suspended sentence for the property crimes. Braham will be on supervised probation for two to four years.
Parker is scheduled for sentencing later this month. When pleading to the conspiracy and child endangerment charges, the state agreed to ask for four- to five-year suspended sentences.
NOTE: A previous version of this article noted a shoplifting conviction since Braham had been out on bond. That shoplifting offense occurred in May, before Braham was arrested in the burglary case.