Waylon Dondero was sentenced Tuesday to 15 years in prison for robbery, with a promise from the visiting judge that he would attend the defendant’s parole hearing in five years.
Senior Judge Charles McGee, sitting in for Judge Tod Young, told Dondero that he could be a leader in prison, for good or evil.
“My deal with you is this,” McGee said. “From the crossed pictures I get of you, you are a leader. At the commencement of your 59th month in prison, if somebody tells me you are a leader, I will go to your parole hearing and make a recommendation as your sentencing judge.”
Dondero, 30, pleaded guilty to robbery, admitting he and another suspect robbed the 40-year-old victim of $78 in their search for money for gambling. In exchange for his guilty plea, no other charges were sought, including a habitual criminal enhancement. He received the maximum sentence of 15 years with parole eligibility in five years.
Co-defendant Miguel Rubio pleaded not guilty and is set for trial.
Dondero’s lawyer, Derrick Lopez, presented several letters in support of his client.
Lopez said he had experience with Dondero dating from the early 2000s.
“This event, he had been on the run from domestic battery and committed the robbery. He had been using drugs,” Lopez said. “Sober, he is an amazing person. He is viewing this time (in prison) as something given to him by a higher being, as time to reflect on freedom.”
He said Dondero planned to take advantage of prison programs to deal with his addiction and anger issues.
Dondero told McGee that he knew inmates “on the straight and narrow,” and planned to “keep them close to me” while he’s in custody.
McGee offered to purchase two books for Dondero he recommended the inmate read in prison, author Barbara Kingsolver’s “The Bean Trees,” and “Pigs in Heaven.”
“It’s about being a proud Native American,” McGee said after questioning Dondero about his heritage.
Dondero thanked McGee for the books, and the vote of confidence.
“I look forward to seeing you outside those (prison) gates when you come pick me up,” Dondero said.
He gave Dondero credit for 91 days in custody.
Cristina Basagoitia, 30, of Gardnerville, who helped Rubio avoid arrest by driving him from the crime scene and lying about his whereabouts, was sentenced Monday to three years probation.
She pleaded guilty to accessory to a robbery or battery causing substantial bodily harm.
District Judge Michael Gibbons sentenced her to 30 months in Nevada state prison, suspended, and placed her on probation.
She must perform 50 hours of community service, maintain full-time employment, abstain from drugs, alcohol and intoxicating substances, and undergo intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment. She must pay $226 restitution.
She is forbidden to have contact with Rubio — her former boyfriend — or Dondero.
“You have a chance here to do exactly what you said you want to do,” Gibbons said. “If you don’t stick with it, you will go to prison.”
She faced up to five years in Nevada state prison and a $10,000 fine at sentencing Sept. 30.
Basagoitia said she drove Rubio, and codefendant Dondero from the scene of an assault that took place late May 25 on Genoa Lane.
The victim attended Basagoitia’s sentencing, but declined to make a statement.
Prosecutor Tom Gregory said he agreed to the plea bargain because there was no evidence Basagoitia was a principal in the robbery, and because she was forthcoming in her statement to authorities.
He said he had concerns about Basagoitia’s criminal history.
Gregory said he had hoped Basagoitia would do more with her time after she was released from jail and prior to Monday to indicate how she would perform on probation.
Basagoitia’s attorney, Jamie Henry, said her client had obtained full-time employment for the first time in more than a year and had negative drug tests.
She said Basagoitia was also attending 12-step programs regularly.
“She knows what she did was wrong, but she didn’t know exactly how wrong it was. She is trying to do the right thing,” Henry said. “She wants to be clean and sober. She is ready for it.”