Third crowbar burglary suspect pleads guilty
February 18, 2014
The third defendant in a series of burglaries committed with a crowbar pleaded guilty Tuesday, and faces up to 50 years in Nevada state prison and a $60,000 fine.
Jeffrey Lee Stephens, 44, of South Lake Tahoe, pleaded guilty to four counts of burglary and two counts of attempted possession of stolen property, all felonies.
The burglary charges carry a maximum penalty of 10 years each in prison and a $10,000 fine. The attempted possession charges are punishable by up to five years each in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Stephens is also eligible for probation if he has no prior burglary convictions. District Judge Tod Young set sentencing for April 15.
Codefendants Joseph Winters, 48, and his wife, Jean René Winters, 44, face sentencing March 4 before Young.
Joseph Winters pleaded guilty in January to four counts of burglary. Jean Winters admitted two counts of burglary and two counts of possession of stolen property.
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The three defendants are in Douglas County Jail.
As part of a plea agreement with the District Attorney's office, Stephens promised to make a truthful statement to prosecutors about the offenses. Prosecutor Maria Pence said Stephens had met his obligation.
Young ordered the statement and the stipulation sealed.
"Don't go into this thinking you're guaranteed probation or some other sentence," Young said, admonishing Stephens that the sentence was up to the judge.
Both sides are free to argue for the penalty.
In exchange for Stephens' guilty pleas, other charges against him will not be filed.
The three were arrested on Oct. 18 at a home in Valley Crest Estates where someone had used a crowbar to break in.
Winters and Stephens admitted to burglaries on Lakeside Drive in the foothill area, Parkview Drive and Valley Vista in Indian Hills.
Stephens also admitted breaking into the Northern Nevada Coin Shop in Minden between Sept. 13-Oct. 19, 2013.
In each of the attempted possession charges, he admitted having property worth $3,500 or more.
At the scene of their arrest, investigators found a white 2000 Ford Explorer described in an Oct. 11 burglary attempt in Minden.
The Minden resident said she heard someone ring her doorbell and before she was able to answer the door, two men using a crowbar tried to break into the house. She was able to describe the vehicle.
Similar thefts were under investigation by South Lake Tahoe and El Dorado County authorities.