Man dodges prison but goes to jail
A South Lake Tahoe man narrowly avoided prison, but will spend six months in the Douglas County Jail after he was sentenced on Tuesday.
Michael R. Burghard, 30, received a suspended five-year prison sentence for breaking the jaw of a fellow gambler in 2014.
District Judge Tod Young told Burghard he came into the courtroom intending to sentence him to prison.
However, after hearing recommendations from both the defense and prosecution that Burghard receive a suspended sentence so he can pay off more than $5,500 in restitution, the judge suspended the sentence.
Burghard pleaded guilty to a count of battery causing substantial bodily harm on Jan. 30.
Prosecutor Ric Casper showed security footage of the Oct. 23, 2014, incident in which Burghard can be seen striking the victim at least four times.
Both men were in the Lakeside Inn and Casino at Stateline playing video poker, when Burghard left his machine.
When he returned, he accused the victim of stealing his player points.
Both men had been drinking. The victim said he went into the parking lot with Burghard.
“There was no physical contact until I was walking away and then I was out,” the victim said in a statement to the court. “I ate all my meals through a straw.”
Burghard said he was sober for 255 days on Tuesday.
“I know I can’t ever drink again,” he said. “This is not the person I want to be.”
Young had stern words for both men in the altercation.
“Neither one of you should have gone out to the parking lot,” he said. “Both of you acted aggressively. That’s how people get killed.”
Young sentenced Burghard to 14-60 months in prison and suspended the sentence for up to five years. He ordered him to pay $5,677 in restitution and to spend 180 days in the county jail. Burghard was ordered to remain in counseling for the entire five years of his probation. He is not to enter a bar or casino except in the course of his employment.