DECEMBER 14, 1971.
THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF ILLINOIS, APPELLEE,
JOE THOMPSON, APPELLANT.
APPEAL from the Circuit Court of St. Clair County; the Hon.
ALVIN MAEYS, Judge, presiding.
MR. JUSTICE CREBS DELIVERED THE OPINION OF THE COURT:
Appellant, Joe Thompson, and three co-defendants entered pleas of guilty to indictments charging them with the crime of burglary. The defendants requested probation and a probation hearing was held, at the close of which the court denied their application and thereupon immediately passed sentence. The three co-defendants were sentenced to the penitentiary for a term of not less than three nor more than five years. Appellant was sentenced to a term of not less than 15 nor more than 25 years.
The only issue raised on this appeal is Appellant's claim that his sentence was excessive, particularly in view of the lesser sentences given the three co-defendants. It is Appellant's position that there was no adequate basis for the disparity between the sentences.
The only evidence offered was at the probation hearing. At the close of this evidence the State's Attorney recommended that the court impose a severe sentence on Appellant stating that he was the moving force behind the crime and that the remaining three defendants feared Appellant and would never have become involved in the crime were it not not for him. The State's Attorney made no recommendation concerning the other defendants. The Appellate Court has express statutory authority, in appropriate instances, to reduce the punishment imposed. Ill. Rev. Stat. 1969, ch. 110A, par. 615(b)(4).
• 1, 2 The record in this case is not as clear as it might be concerning the State's claim that Appellant's degree of involvement was much greater than that of the co-defendants. A better line of cross-examination and testimony of the witnesses to the crime would have greatly aided both this court and the trial court. We do find, however, that sufficient evidence does exist to justify a finding of the claimed greater involvement. The adult probation officer testified that his investigation and report indicated that Appellant was the ringleader of the group, that he planned the crime to coincide with a time when he felt the police would be on strike, and that he distributed the guns used in the commission of the crime. This testimony was corroborated in one or more respects by the various co-defendants. Although these charges were denied by the Appellant, the trial court, which had the best opportunity to evaluate the credibility of the witnesses, was convinced of the truth of the claims against Appellant as witnessed by the wide disparity between the sentences imposed, which disparity can be explained on no other basis. The mere fact that the co-defendants received lesser sentences than Appellant does not of itself indicate an abuse of discretion or discrimination against defendant (People v. Mitchell, 57 Ill. App.2d 238) and where, as here, there is a finding that one individual is the dominant member of a criminal group and played a more active role in the commission of the crime, a greater sentence is justified. People v. Morris, 43 Ill.2d 124.
• 3 While we find that there is an adequate basis for the imposition of a greater sentence upon Appellant than upon the co-defendants, we are also cognizant of the purposes to be achieved by the imposition of punishment for a criminal offense. The sentence imposed should be that which at the same time protects the public and provides the greatest potential for restoring the offender to a useful and productive place in society. People v. Brown, 60 Ill. App.2d 447, 449.
• 4 The sentence imposed by the trial court does not make provision for the possibility of rehabilitation and we, therefore, reduce the sentence to a minimum of five years and a maximum of fifteen years.
Sentence modified and judgment affirmed.
EBERSPACHER, P.J., and MORAN, J., concur.
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