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Suspect in armed robberies was on intensive probation

Posted December 15, 2008
Updated December 16, 2008

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— A Raleigh man arrested last week in connection with a string of armed robberies at restaurants and convenience stores was supposed to be under intense supervised probation for a previous crime, according to court records.

Steven Peter Sylvester, 18, was arrested on 10 counts of robbery with a firearm and one count of attempted armed robbery in connection with the series of crimes, which date back to October.

In addition, he faces charges of violating his probation. At the time of his arrest, Sylvester was serving three concurrent probation sentences totaling to 30 months, for common-law robbery, felony breaking-and-entering and driving while impaired, according to state Department of Correction records.

Six of those which were supposed to be intensive probation. Intensive probation requires several face-to-face weekly meetings with a probation officer.

Keith Acree, a spokesman for the Department of Correction, said on Nov. 7, authorities issued two arrest warrants for probation absconding because Sylvester had not reported to his probation officer since early October.

Police said Monday that the investigation into the robberies is ongoing.

Sylvester is accused of stealing more than $2,500 from five restaurants and five convenience stores.

The first in which Sylvester is charged happened Oct. 11 at the Your House Restaurant on Capital Boulevard in which $876 was stolen. The last two happened Dec. 4 at a Waffle House on New Bern Avenue and a Kangaroo gas station on Creedmoor Road.

Raleigh police said that in each crime, the assailant pointed a gun at employees and that during an Oct. 31 robbery of a Capital Boulevard Subway, he hit the clerk with his gun and then put it to her head.

He faces an attempted robbery charge in an Oct. 16 robbery of a McDonald's on Spring Forest Road.

Sylvester was in the Wake County jail Monday under a $2.04 million bond. During a first court appearance Monday afternoon, District Judge Jane Gray denied a request to reduce bond, saying she believes he is a danger to the community.

She appointed him a public defender and set a probable cause hearing for Jan. 5.

Two other men, Dexter Maxwell, 20, of 6516-K The Lakes Drive, Raleigh, and Jesus Borrero, 21, of 7612 Neuse Bend Drive, Raleigh, are also charged in the case. Each faces one count of robbery with a firearm in a Nov. 21 robbery of a Subway restaurant on Wake Forest Road.

Each was in the Wake County jail under a $150,000 bond Monday afternoon. Gray also scheduled probable cause hearings for both suspects for Jan. 5.

North Carolina's probation system has come under scrutiny this year after the shooting deaths of Duke graduate student Abhijit Mahato in January and University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill senior Eve Carson in March.

Suspects in both those slayings were on probation at the time of the crimes, and an internal investigation found they had been overlooked. Overworked and undertrained staff and no central information system were partly to blame.

Last week, the state announced a statewide Web-based application that will help probation officers easily track offenders in their caseload and know sooner when they have been arrested or convicted of other crimes.

75 Comments

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  • kal Dec 16, 2008

    My students think stealing (and wors) is a joke. They always return from court laughing about how they got probation. They know (think) they will never be in jail. It's just SAD.

  • IfByWhiskey-a-go-go Dec 15, 2008

    Wake up people!!! This system has been set up as a cash cow for lawyers!!! If you lock up this vermin as you should, the lawyers make nothing!!! How long will the citizenry put up with this garbage?

  • peaceout Dec 15, 2008

    clearly a broken system...grateful no one was killed this time!
    Wake up people!

  • toobad Dec 15, 2008

    What is intensive probation? "Please check in with us each week at your pleasure." Lock this guy up and throw away the key before he kills someone!!

  • AtALost Dec 15, 2008

    Three consecutive probation terms is just plain retarded. It's probably public record who gave these sentences. Please tell us which judges are doing this so we'll be sure to vote them out next time.

  • scorekeep Dec 15, 2008

    If I commit a crime, PLEASE place me on intensive probation. Since it does not exist. Fire the two guys in charge by noon tomorrow. Has there been more incompetence in any office, ever?

  • james27613 Dec 15, 2008

    Yes, they like jail time and the perks,

    including FREE medical and dental care,
    at the expense of the taxpayers.

  • james27613 Dec 15, 2008

    The two top men at the Probation Dept. need to be FIRED ASAP

    Our elected officials must pass tough crime bill NOW,
    firearm in a crime, you go down NOW, no plea, no prob, no slap on the wrist. Use a firearm, you get 10 years hard time.

    We have at least three upstanding citizens of our area that are
    DEAD because of the failure of the Probation system and the FAILURE of the courts to allow Probation instead of prision for
    violent firearm crimes by those that have been charged with
    the violent deaths of our citizens.

    For the nonvoilent convicts, no probation just jail time:
    Tent prisions in the country, electric fences, razor wire, attack dogs and some inexpensive off the shelf wifi cameras.
    No MRE, too expensive, give them ham sandwich and glass of milk. NO MTV, cable tv or newspapers. only an am radio.

  • cejr1 Dec 15, 2008

    The bottom line is this...Until the politicians wake up and realize that they cannot save the world by creating more programs and just throwing money at everything, nothing will change. I have had people tell me (when a Prob. Officer) that they would not get a job because "they" will cut my check off...Now what does that say?...It tells me that a portion of our society has come to think of "programs" as a way of life, and they shouldn't have to work for what they get...they feel as if they are owed something by the government. I have read the Constitution numerous times, but I have never seen that part.

  • 3potato4 Dec 15, 2008

    I don't see a charge of assault with a deadly weapon on his list. Shouldn't that apply when he hit the one woman with the gun and then held the gun to her head?

    Judges and Lawyers, stop being so sorry! If we don't have enough room in our current prisons, set up the tent prisons, complete with MRE's.

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