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DEFENDANT'S 'SVENGALI' DEFENSE FAILS

A Barker man who took part in a violent home invasion last year was sentenced Monday to seven years in prison, despite his lawyer's claim that the man was himself a victim of a "Svengali".

Nathaniel Stanley, 23, who pleaded guilty in July to a charge of attempted robbery, was sentenced in Orleans County County by Judge James Punch. Stanley received a reduced sentence in exchange for information that led police to Paul D. Rutherford Jr., 31, and his girlfriend, 32-year-old Michelle Lawless, both of Ridgeway.

Stanley's lawyer, George V.C. Muscato, asked for lenience for his client, saying he was easily swayed by Rutherford, who police said was the leader of the crime.

"He's almost Manson-like in his ability to find these people to prey upon," Muscato said.

Punch disagreed. "I can't do it in good conscience," he said. "I don't think you're excused because you're weak-willed."

Stanley was facing up to 15 years if convicted, but District Attorney Joseph V. Cardone said that because of his cooperation with police he was promised a seven-year cap.

Stanley and Rutherford kicked in the door of a 70-year-old woman, threatened her with a shotgun, tied her hands behind her back and put a towel over her face.

Stanley guarded the woman while Rutherford searched the home. They took $20,000 in cash from the woman then loaded several guns into the woman's SUV and drove off, eventually discarding the vehicle.

Lawless also was sentenced Monday, receiving the two-year maximum allowed under her plea agreement in August.

Lawless received the shorter of the two sentences because she was the driver and didn't actually enter the home, Cardone said.

Rutherford, already serving a three-year federal prison term for a drug conviction, faces up to 13 more years in prison for his burglary plea when he is sentenced Nov. 22.

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