Convicted escapee sentenced to prison for gun hand-off

Convicted escapee Carlos A. Acosta Jr. was sentenced Wednesday to 3 1/2 to seven years in state prison with credit for time served for handing off a firearm to a man on Isabella Street on Sept. 23, 2012.

“The gun was loaded, had a round in the chamber and the magazine was full,” Judge Marc F. Lovecchio said at the sentencing hearing.

Twenty-four year old Acosta was convicted of persons not to possess a firearm and carrying a firearm without a license by non-jury trail before Lovecchio last August.

“We can’t have people running around with guns that might be dangerous,” Lovecchio said.

Acosta maintained his innocence Wednesday, claiming that none of the witnesses had seen him hand off the gun and that one of the witnesses couldn’t pick him out of a line-up.

“I’ve been heinously convicted of a crime with no evidence at all. I feel the elements of the charges weren’t sufficiently proven,” Acosta told Lovecchio.

Direct and circumstantial evidence proved Acosta’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, according to Lovecchio.

“You don’t need to see it raining outside to know that it rained,” Lovecchio told Acosta.

Acosta also argued that he couldn’t be found guilty of the persons not to possess a firearm charge because the court had misinterpreted the applicable legal statute.

“They expect you to be illiterate and not know what’s going on,” Acosta told Lovecchio.

Lovecchio granted two continuances to investigate Acosta’s claim and determined it was false.

“Your contention is just wrong. The statute says that if you’re convicted of an escape offense, you can’t possess guns,” Lovecchio told Acosta.

In addition to escape, Acosta also has juvenile convictions for aggravated assault, receiving stolen property, possessing drug paraphernalia and two counts of possessing a small amount of marijuana for personal use, according to Lovecchio.

Acosta has not adjusted well to incarceration and “behaves as he pleases,” according to the pre-sentence report. He has received seven write-ups for violations that include fighting, disrespecting authority, disobeying orders and calling staff derogatory names.

“It seems to me that if you were wrongly accused you’d be on your best behavior,” Lovecchio told Acosta. “Clearly in your case we have a young man who disrespects authority and is going to play by his own rules regardless.”

Acosta claimed that the prison and the court had mistreated him.

“I’m supposed to sit down and lay down if something isn’t fair?” Acosta told Lovecchio. “If I feel something’s wrong, I’m going to go against it.”

“You have every right to appeal your conviction and assert your constitutional rights but I’m not sure I buy this statement that you only speak up if you’re victimized,” Lovecchio said.

Acosta has complained of alleged errors and impropriety throughout the judicial process. At a prior sentencing hearing he insisted that he’d never been convicted of aggravated assault. Only after the commonwealth produced certified records demonstrating his guilt did he admit to the conviction, according to Lovecchio.

Given Acosta’s lack of remorse, Assistant District Attorney Anthony Louis Ciuca asked Lovecchio to sentence Acosta to a minimum 4 1/2 years state prison.

“At the beginning of this case we made a very generous offer to Acosta. It required him to accept responsibility and move on. As we sit here today, there is still no acceptance of responsibility,” Ciuca said.

Assistant Public Defender Kathryn Elizabeth Bellfy argued for a shorter sentence, asking Lovecchio to take Acosta’s personality and characteristics into account.

“Getting to know him, he’s a very intelligent young man. He loves his daughter and wife,” Bellfy said.

Given that Acosta never before served any significant jail time, Lovecchio said he saw no reason not to sentence him within the four-to-eight year standard range.

“I have been impressed by your intelligence and perseverance,” Lovecchio told Acosta. “It seems to me that if you use those qualities for good, it could yield good results.”