Harris sentenced to 50 years to life

Paul Harris

Paul Harris

ALBANY COUNTY — Paul Harris — whom police described as a “career criminal,” involved in burglaries in Altamont and Guilderland — was sentenced Friday morning to 50 years to life in state prison.

Harris, 67, of Albany, was sentenced by Roger D. McDonough in Albany County Supreme Court, according to a release from the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

After a jury trial in March, Harris had been found guilty of four counts of second-degree burglary, each a violent felony. The burglaries had taken place in four Albany County homes, between Dec. 21, 2017 and Jan. 12, 2018 — less than a year after he was released from state prison, having served 20 years for a burglary conviction, according to the district attorney’s office. He was under parole supervision at the time.

Harris had nine previous felony convictions, five for burglary so the court deemed him a mandatory persistent felon, imposing an aggregate sentence of 50 years to life, the district attorney’s office said.

His partner in crime, John Pietrzak, had earlier pleaded guilty to third-degree grand larceny, a felony, according to Cecilia Walsh, spokeswoman for the Albany County District Attorney’s Office.

Pietrzak, who is not in custody, is scheduled to be sentenced on May 31 at 9:30 a.m., according to Walsh.

In January 2018, when the two men were charged in burglaries in Altamont — in homes on Sand Street and Western Avenue — in which jewelry, cash, and some small electronics were taken, Detective Christopher Laurenzo of the Altamont Police Department said the two men were in an intimate relationship, which he knew from speaking with Pietrzak and from viewing a videotaped interview of Harris by the Colonie Police.

Pietrzak, who was 26 at the time of his Altamont arrest over a year ago, lived in Schenectady. Both men were already being held in Albany County’s jail on similar charges from Colonie.

“He’s not the big fish in this picture,” Laurenzo had said of Pietrzak. He described Harris as a “career criminal.”

The jury found that Harris during day-time hours, had entered four separate homes in Albany County — in the village of Altamont and in the towns of Guilderland and Colonie — and stolen jewelry and currency along with other property, according to a release from the district attorney’s office.

An executed search warrant uncovered the stolen property at Harris’s apartment in Albany.

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