Plea deal reached in string of robberies

James Parrinello pleaded no contest to two counts of unarmed robbery in Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court on Monday. He faces up to 15 years in prison at a later sentencing.

MANISTEE COUNTY — After difficulties locating evidence, the Manistee County prosecutor struck a deal with a Manistee man accused of armed robbery.

James Parrinello, 31, pleaded no contest to two counts of unarmed robbery in Manistee County’s 19th Circuit Court on Monday.

Parrinello was charged with three counts armed robbery in 2012 and faced up to life in prison. He will face up to 15 years in prison after Monday’s proceedings.

“It’s always a let down when you have a big case that’s coming close to trial because you really always want to try those,” said Manistee County prosecutor Ford Stone. “The investigators and I … looked at some of the evidence issues that had developed. At the end of our conversation, we decided that we would take a sure thing and accept the two unarmed robbery counts as a means to resolve the entire case.”

According to Stone, investigators had trouble locating some witnesses, and there were some witness credibility issues.

Parrinello was arrested Jan. 28, 2012, after allegedly robbing Little Ceaser’s on Dec. 31, 2011; A&W All-American Food on Jan. 1, 2012; and Admiral Tobacco on Jan. 25, 2012, all with a Ruger .380 pistol.

Ann Wilkosz, a manager at A & W All-American Food, was working the night the restaurant was robbed and was held at gunpoint.

“When they arrested him I did have a sense of relief but I don’t think (the emotions) ever leave you,” she said. “Still working here, when somebody walks in the door, you wonder what they have in their purse or what are they carrying under their arm.

“Anything can happen anywhere anytime,” she continued. “I just sit back and think about how it affects everybody. From him and his family to me and my family. It puts a whole different light on things. You don’t look at things the same. You don’t sleep the same. You don’t think the same at all.”

As part of the plea deal, three counts of armed robbery were dropped, three counts of felony firearm were dropped along with two counts of assault with a dangerous weapon, carrying a concealed weapon and operating without a valid license.

“In consultation with the city police and the Michigan State Police, we decided that the better course of action was to make sure we did get a conviction, so we accepted this plea agreement,” Stone said.

Parinello has been remanded to the Manistee County Sheriff’s Office without bond to await sentencing.

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Posted by Eric Sagonowsky

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