The reported ringleader in a March 14 jail cell beating that resulted in an inmate receiving a broken rib was sentenced to the maximum after being caught "red-handed."
Kevin Louis Cucuk, 30, was sentenced to 19-48 months in prison on Tuesday.
Prosecutor Patrick Ferguson argued that Cucuk was the ringleader in the attack on a confidential informant.
He called for 19-48-month prison sentences for all four men involved in the incident. All of them had a history of drug offenses.
Ferguson said Cucuk’s hands were red from punching the man who had just transferred into the cellblock and was still setting up his bed when four other inmates walked in and closed the cell door.
“I’d give you a lecture but we both know it wouldn’t make a difference,” District Judge Tod Young said. “This is just a waste of your life.”
He was given credit for 176 days time served.
Prosecutors believe the beating was ordered by Joseph Allen Cudia, 48, who was awaiting sentencing for drug trafficking after a May 2020 raid on a Stateline vacation rental where he and another man had been squatting.
The victim testified against Cudia, who reportedly used hand signals to indicate what he wanted done. Ferguson said the attack was in reprisal for the victim testifying against Cudia, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for trafficking in methamphetamine eight days after the beating occurred.
While only Cucuk received the max, he didn’t receive the longest prison sentence on Tuesday.
In addition to the charge of felony attempted battery on a prisoner with substantial bodily harm, Devin Thomas Nestroyl, 28, was sentenced for possession of a firearm by a felon and possession of a credit card without the owner’s permission when the beating occurred.
The charge of attempted battery on a prisoner can be treated as either a gross misdemeanor or a felony.
Attorney Theresa Ristenpart argued that Nestroyl was the last one to walk into the cell.
“There was a lot of confusion at to what happened,” she said.
Ferguson pointed out that none of the men had any connection to the victim.
“He was still setting up his bed when four men entered his cell,” Ferguson said. “It was an attack on the justice system to send the message ‘snitches get stitches. This is what you get for cooperating.’ We need to send a message back that there is a price.”
Nestroyl admitted to participating in the beating.
“I did the crime and I’m here to do the time,” he said.
Young said Nestroyl didn’t get to have his own system of justice in sentencing him to 12-30 months in the beating.
That sentence will run consecutive to two charges stemming from Nestroyl’s Feb. 20 arrest at Lake Tahoe for possession of a firearm and a bunch of credit cards and drivers’ licenses in other people’s names. He received 19-60 months for the firearms charge and 19-48 months on the credit card charge. Between the three charges, Nestroyl faces a minimum of four years in prison.
Saying her client was not a violent person, attorney Maria Pence argued against a felony charge for Shawn Gary Stenzel, 32, in connection with the beating.
“He attempted to resolve this case early on,” she said. “My client was barely mentioned.”
Stenzel was sentenced to drug court in May and does not want to go back to prison, Pence said.
Stenzel acknowledged he was part of the problem, but said he hopes that drug court will solve the issue.
Stenzel received a suspended 12-30-month prison sentence. He was ordered to complete drug court.
One of the inmates involved had just been sentenced to prison hours before the beating.
Randy Martin, 35, claimed he was just a spectator to the incident. He expects to be out of prison in December.
Young sentenced him to the gross misdemeanor attempted battery with substantial bodily harm and ordered him to do 60 days in jail when he gets out of prison.