Two recent Prosser High graduates were sentenced Thursday to 45 days in jail for vandalizing their alma mater just two days after commencement ceremonies.
Gumaro Cruz and Leonel Solorzano Ramirez, both 18, appeared in Benton County Superior Court. Solorzano Ramirez pleaded guilty to second-degree burglary, while Cruz admitted the same charge last month in court.
In all, five suspects were charged with the crimes that happened on three separate nights last spring and caused hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage to the school.
Cruz and Solorzano Ramirez reportedly participated only in the June 6 break-in and must pay $1,000 in restitution as part of their sentences.
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Benjamin Velasquez was the only person charged in all three incidents. The 18-year-old was a student when he reportedly admitted to vandalizing the school in April and causing $800 in damage, yet before he was charged in that crime, he returned twice after his June 4 graduation to cause more damage.
Prosecutors allege the first vandalism was April 19 when Velasquez and Lawrence Edwin Hall spray painted exterior security cameras at the school and left black and green graffiti on several walls, doors and windows.
The suspects also filled the locks of many exterior doors with unknown substances, court records said.
The two men were interviewed by Prosser police days later and admitted they were involved, but weren't arrested immediately because they had no felony criminal history.
The police reports were sent to the prosecutor's office for review and became a high priority after Velasquez was tied to two June burglaries on campus.
On June 6, Velasquez and Jorge E. Luna Guerrero broke into the school overnight and painted several security camera lenses, apparently to obscure their identities, court records indicate. It is believed they got into the 1203 Prosser Ave. school by climbing onto the roof and entering through a window.
They broke windows, ceiling tiles, a trophy case and other items, overturned furniture, smeared food and condiments throughout the building and spray painted walls and other surfaces, documents said.
At some point, Velasquez called Cruz, and he and Solorzano Ramirez came to the school and climbed through the same window.
An autographed Boise State University football jersey belonging to former Prosser football star Kellen Moore was stolen from a case in the main hallway, in addition to speakers and change from a cash register. Total damage on that date was estimated at $10,000.
Ten days later, Velasquez and Luna Guerrero allegedly returned and got in through a different window. The security cameras were spray painted.
Damage was similar to the previous break-in, but also included broken vending machines, gallons of paint dumped on furniture, walls and the floor and emptying fire extinguishers inside the building.
The burglars also stole a TV, a digital record, a Leatherman tool and a football jersey and helmet. Some of the items were recovered.
Documents state that cleaning, replacement and repair of the damaged property from June 16 is estimated at more than $400,000.
Velasquez pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree burglary and third-degree theft and one count each of first- and second-degree malicious mischief. The first-degree malicious mischief includes the aggravating circumstance that it was a major economic offense.
He also admitted a second-degree malicious mischief charge for the April vandalism.
Sentencing on the two cases is set for Dec. 8. Court documents show that prosecutors plan to recommend a two-year prison term.
Luna Guerrero has a trial set Nov. 21 on two counts each of second-degree burglary, third-degree theft and first-degree malicious mischief with the major economic offense allegation.
Hall, 19, has pleaded guilty to third-degree malicious mischief. He was sentenced to 20 days in jail with 344 days suspended.
In plea negotiations, prosecutors agreed to reduce his charge from second-degree malicious mischief because Hall had no criminal history prior to the vandalism, never entered the school during the incident and paid restitution in full by the end of the school year.
The men have been ordered to stay off all Prosser School District property, including the high school campus.
-- Kristin M. Kraemer: 582-1531; firstname.lastname@example.org