ITHACA, N.Y. — An Ithaca man who robbed an elderly couple in Enfield in 2016, racking up several other unrelated felony and misdemeanor charges in the months before, pleaded guilty in court Monday.
Benjamin Spradlin, 42, pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery in exchange for a recommended sentence of eight years in prison and 5 years of post-release supervision.
His original charges for robbing an elderly couple included first-degree robbery, second-degree robbery, first-degree burglary, second-degree burglary, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and third-degree criminal possession of a weapon. The plea covers the November crimes.
According to court documents, Spradlin entered the home of an elderly couple around 5:30 p.m. Nov.12, 2016 on Halseyville Road in Enfield. The woman was watching TV and playing games on her iPad when Spradlin walked into the home and demanded money. The woman called for her husband, who’d been in the basement working on an electrical project for the local fire department.
When the husband got to the top of the stairs, he said Spradlin pointed a pistol at him and demanded money. The man got his wallet from his bedroom and handed the wallet to Spradlin who fled the home and headed into a nearby cornfield.
Police arrived at the home and searched the surrounding area until they were able to take Spradlin into custody. Both the husband and wife were able to identify him as the man who robbed them, police wrote in documents.
The robbery happened just three months after Spradlin was charged with two counts of third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon, third-degree criminal possession of stolen property, two counts of fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon, and seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance.
The Ithaca Police Department stated that on Aug. 7, 2016, an officer responded to the Tops parking lot for a report of a man slumped over in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. Spradlin had reportedly been there for hours.
When police arrived, they said Spradling appeared to be impaired and they asked him to get out of the vehicle, which he eventually did. When officers searched the vehicle, they reported finding 26 grams of crack cocaine, eight grams of heroin, a handgun, a stun gun and a ninja star. They also found more than $8,000 worth of U.S. savings bonds that they believed were related to recent robberies.
Just a few weeks after the August incident, he was also charged with third-degree grand larceny and two counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument. According to police, Spradlin stole more than $3,000 worth of property from Sept. 10 – Sept. 13, 2016. He also is accused of knowingly having two forged checks in his possession during that time.
The plea Monday happened after almost two years of legal issues with the case. Most notably, Spradlin went through three attorneys, all of whom filed requests to the court asking to be relieved of their appointment to represent the defendant due to a deteriorating relationship with him. Spradlin often refused to meet with attorneys at the jail for issues, such as unreturned phone calls. He even told the court that he would represent himself in the legal proceeding since his claimed he was not being adequately represented.
Spradlin was eventually represented by attorney Seth Peacock and a plea was reached for the November robbery.
Assistant District Attorneys Eliza Filipowski and Kristen Grabowski prosecuted the case, which appeared in front of Judge Scott Miller.