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Plea agreement reached in case of several burglaries

MERCED - A 37-year-old burglar who stole from more than a dozen residences, including that of a Merced County Superior Court judge, is heading to prison after making a plea agreement with prosecutors.

Kevin Puglizevich was sentenced to 12 years, eight months in prison Wednesday after pleading no contest to eight counts of first-degree burglary, including enhancements, because there were people home when the crimes happened.

Eight counts were dismissed as part of the plea deal.

Puglizevich was tracked down by law enforcement last year during a joint investigation between Merced police and the Merced County Sheriff’s Department. The crimes happened between June and September 2009, and most of the homes were in northeast Merced.

Deputy District Attorney Matt Serratto said Puglizevich stole to support his methamphetamine habit. He’d generally enter homes when the victims were asleep, creeping through side doors to garages, sometimes reaching through doggie doors to unlock them.

Puglizevich was also known to break into cars, removing the garage door opener and entering the home. On some occasions, he’d enter through bedroom windows. In August last year, Puglizevich broke into the home of Merced County Superior Court Judge Brian McCabe.

The victims would usually wake up the next morning and find their cars ransacked and items missing from their home. No one was physically hurt during any of the burglaries, Serratto said.

Serratto said only a few people actually saw Puglizevich commit the burglaries. A big break in the case came, however, after someone was able to provide law enforcement with a description of the suspect and his truck. “For awhile he was getting away with it, and the detectives started putting things together and caught up with him,” Serratto said.

Puglizevich was arrested Sept. 7 last year, and admitted to the crimes. Serratto said detectives were able to locate some of the stolen property, which included jewelry, electronics, laptop computers and guns, among other items. Some of the property was returned to the owners.

During interviews, Serratto said the defendant mentioned he had help from others, although no one else has been arrested in the case.

Defense attorney Jeffrey Tenenbaum said his client decided to enter a plea because he would have faced significantly more prison time if he’d been convicted at trial. Tenenbaum said Puglizevich did express remorse. “He felt bad about what had happened and tried to make it better by admitting what he had done and trying to return most of the property,” Tenenbaum said.

Puglizevich must also pay restitution costs of about $30,000. He must serve 85 percent of his sentence before he’s eligible for parole.

Judge Carol Ash presided over the case.

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