Man robs store to go back to jail, but…
CLAYTON, MISSOURI — A Missouri man who robbed a restaurant then waited for police to arrive so he could return to jail and avoid homelessness has been sentenced to five years of probation.
Paul Borroni, 58, pleaded guilty on Monday to first-degree robbery of a Clayton restaurant last year, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Borroni had spent almost four decades in prison before the arrest and was struggling to settle on the outside.
He had told police that he threatened a restaurant employee to give him cash while pretending to have a gun for the sole purpose of returning to jail.
The man said he had been kicked out of a housing center and a St. Louis homeless shelter didn’t have a bed for him.
Change of mind
Borroni, who has been awaiting trial in St. Louis County’s jail system for a year, has changed his mind since his arrest, according to his public defender, Jemia Steele.
For a while, “Paul was dead-set on” returning to prison, Steele said. “Then, he realized he doesn’t need to go back to prison. That he can turn his life around.”
Judge Michael Jamison sentenced Borroni to 15 years in prison, but suspended it, putting him on probation with conditions that he must pursue job training and mental health and drug treatment to avoid being put back behind bars.
Borroni will also be required to live in a Springfield shelter, the Victory Mission, which Steele said would “get him acclimated into society better.”
“Paul really didn’t have the right tools before,” Steele said. “He had been in prison so long.”
In prison since 17
Borroni entered the prison system in 1979 at the age of 17 after he was convicted of fatally stabbing a high school student who refused to date him.
He was released in 2004, but returned to prison two more times for parole violations.
In February 2018, he left the facility after serving his sentence in full, meaning that no parole officer would check in on him.
He had been out of prison for 26 days when he pretended his finger was a gun hidden under his coat and robbed an employee at the Clayton restaurant C.J. Muggs.
“There was some reason to believe he just wanted to go back to jail,” Judge Jamison said. “That was his whole life.”
The St. Louis County prosecutor’s office consulted with law enforcement and Borroni’s family before agreeing that probation was the appropriate sentence, according to a prosecutor’s spokesperson.
Jamison said he attached stiff probation conditions to give Borroni a chance to rehabilitate.
“It’s the hope that everyone has the possibility of rehabilitating,” Jamison said. — AP
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