MORRISTOWN — A Clifton electrician who used his 15-year-old son to break into the Jefferson Township Middle School received a harsh rebuke Friday from a judge who sentenced him to five years in prison.
With 23 convictions in his past, Brian P. Barone, 52, pleaded guilty in Superior Court, Morristown, in February to employing a juvenile in a crime. He was sentenced Friday to the five-year prison term defense lawyer Neill Hamilton had negotiated with the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office.
“If you want to ruin your own life, it’s your life,” Judge Stephen Taylor told Barone. “But don’t drag other people down with you, especially your own blood. It’s unforgivable.”
Hamilton said Barone is awaiting sentencing for burglaries in other counties, including Essex County, and is expected to receive terms that will run concurrent to the Morris sentence.
Barone, authorities said, claims an addiction to heroin and has not received formal substance abuse treatment though he is married to a drug and alcohol counselor.
“It’s mind-boggling that you haven’t sought any treatment,” Taylor said. Barone told the judge he is “deeply sorry” and blamed the crime on drug abuse.
Taylor told Barone he probably has said he was sorry many times to judges.
“I appreciate your words Mr. Barone but I have a great deal of skepticism given your criminal history,” Taylor said.
County Assistant Prosecutor Reema Kareer said Barone enlisted a teenage relative to break into the middle school safe in October while he stood look-out.
“Cowardice judge, it’s cowardice,” Kareer said. She said the state was “more than fair” to Barone when he technically faced a decade behind bars, or even more as a repeat offender.
According to court records, the Jefferson school break-in occurred Oct. 14, the same day Barone and the teen were at the Weldon Road school as vendors for a non-profit community group event that assists new mothers.
While the Mother’s Market event was under way, Barone had the juvenile break into the school main office, remove a Tempest 8000 Series computer worth $1,000 and a safe that held $739.75, court records state. The main office door was kicked in and cable wires were pulled out of a security system, records state.
“The event was very busy and he had free reign of the school,” township Detective Joseph Kratzel said in October.
Detectives watched surveillance tapes that show Barone entering the main office and removing the safe to an area away from the camera. The safe is later seen broken in a bathroom. Barone also is on tape removing the computer from the school and destroying it outside the building, court records show.