By Meghan Keely
Herald Staff Writer
MERCER COUNTY —
“You are one of the biggest serial burglars in Mercer County history,” Mercer County Court of Common Pleas President Judge Thomas R. Dobson said before sentencing Tracy L. Hassel on Friday.
“Each one of your victims goes into their house wondering if someone will be there,” Dobson said. “I have to protect the people of Mercer County. You can still get out in your 30s.”
In January, Hassel, 32, formerly of Hermitage, pleaded guilty to two counts of burglary and one count of misdemeanor retail theft.
Dobson ordered her to serve 2 to 6 years in state prison for the burglary charges on top of the 5è to 15 years she was sentenced to in September on previous burglary- and theft-related charges.
For the retail theft charge, Dobson threw in 1 to 24 concurrent months of jail time. She was ordered to pay thousands of dollars in restitution to her victims.
Prior to her sentence Hassel tearfully apologized to the judge for her actions.
“I am really sorry,” Hassel said. “I am not proud of the person I have become.”
Last month, Hassel admitted her role in eight burglaries and eight retail thefts over the summer in the Shenango Valley and outlying townships.
Cases against her alleged collaborator in many of the incidents, Steven T. Mortland, 24, of South Pymatuning Township, are pending.
Hassel and Mortland were arrested in September after police responded to a burglary-in-progress and stopped their car in the Shenango Township Municipal Building parking lot. The car contained stolen items and both eventually admitted roles in multiple incidents of theft and burglary in which they implicated each other.
Hassel’s previous conviction in September was on three counts of burglary and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery for 10 incidents of successful and attempted home and business burglaries between March and September 2011 in Sharon and Hermitage as well as Shenango and Lackawannock townships, and the aborted burglary and robbery of an elderly Shenango Township woman in her home.
Hassel has a lengthy addiction to heroin, as recounted in previous criminal prosecutions, and she has admitted to police stealing items and selling or trading items for drugs or money to buy drugs.