Judge gives busy Fresno burglar a second chance with probation, drug program

The Fresno BeeMay 30, 2014 

Michael David Buchanan

A prolific Fresno burglar got a second chance Friday when a judge sentenced him to three years of probation and an in-patient, yearlong drug treatment program.

Police say Michael David Buchanan, 34, is responsible for more than 20 break-ins in northeast Fresno before he was captured in December.

In April, Buchanan pleaded no contest in Fresno County Superior Court to felony drug possession and to eight counts of commercial burglary.

Typically, a defendant who pleads to those types of charges isn't eligible for probation, Judge Kimberly Gaab said Friday at Buchanan's sentencing hearing.

Buchanan also was on parole during his crime spree and prosecutors wanted him to do time in prison, the judge said.

But Gaab said sentencing reports say Buchanan had a done a few good things in his life -- served in the military, earned a GED and attended Fresno City College -- before methamphetamine ruined his life. She also noted that Buchanan had family problems and was homeless.

In announcing the sentence, Gaab said "it's in the community's interest to get him treatment rather than taking up limited jail space."

But she also warned Buchanan to stay away from the places he burglarized, which included a Port Of Subs, a T-Mobile cellular phone store and a Kaiser medical office.

"You're running out of opportunities," Gaab said. "You have to want to get clean and sober or next time you will be looking at custody time."

Buchanan said he understood.

Police said Buchanan's crime spree ended Dec. 5 when northeast district detective Rudy Montoya captured him after a foot chase near Clinton Avenue and First Street.

Montoya happens to run marathons, including the Boston Marathon, and ultra-marathons in his spare time.

The reporter can be reached at (559) 441-6434, plopez@fresnobee.com or @beecourts on Twitter.

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