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Fudge store vandal gets 7 1/2 months in prison, must pay restitution

Posted: March 23, 2012 - 12:05am
Dalton Nierstheimer in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday to change his plea to guilty of criminal mischief.  Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Michael Penn/Juneau Empire
Dalton Nierstheimer in Juneau Superior Court on Thursday to change his plea to guilty of criminal mischief.

A Juneau man accused of breaking The Alaska Fudge Company’s storefront windows pleaded guilty in Juneau Superior Court Thursday.

Dalton J. Nierstheimer, 19, was originally charged with one count of third-degree criminal mischief, a felony, for causing about $800 worth of damage to the store on South Franklin Street.

He pleaded guilty to a reduced charge, fourth-degree criminal mischief, a misdemeanor.

According to charging documents, Nierstheimer drunkenly threw his cell phone through one of the windows and pounded his fist on the other, breaking both of them. His brother, who contacted police at the scene, told a police officer Nierstheimer became angry when officers had contacted Nierstheimer earlier that evening and proceeded to break the windows.

Police found his cell phone lying on the street about 20 feet away from the windows and observed small shards of glass on his hands and on the bottom of his Nike tennis shoes. Nierstheimer was bleeding from a wound to his left hand, according to charging documents.

Nierstheimer was indicted by a grand jury Feb. 24.

Assistant District Attorney Angie Kemp told the judge Thursday this wasn’t the first time he had been in this kind of trouble. Kemp said Nierstheimer was convicted in a 2011 city case for causing about $1,000 damage to property belonging to the City and Borough of Juneau. He was on probation for that case during the Feb. 15 incident. She said he was also on probation for a minor consuming charge during the incident.

A plea deal reached with prosecutors calls for Nierstheimer to serve 365 days in prison with 300 suspended, meaning there’s 65 days to serve for the offense, four years of probation and restitution to pay when an exact figure is determined.

Fourth-degree criminal mischief is a class ‘A’ misdemeanor, the most serious misdemeanor classification. It’s punishable by up to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Because Nierstheimer was on probation for the two other cases, the plea deal calls for him to serve additional jail time and to pay suspended fines.

In all, the plea deal calls for Nierstheimer to serve a total of 7 1/2 months (225 days) in prison, and to have another 400 days of jail time hanging over his head if he violates probation. He was also required to pay a $400 for one of the cases, prohibited to have any further contact with the fudge company, ordered to contact Juneau Alcohol Safety Action Program and to pay a $400 fine.

In turn, the plea dismissed two cases against him for minor consuming and failure to appear.

Nierstheimer’s attorney, Assistant Public Defender Grace Lee, agreed with Kemp he was getting an opportunity here by avoiding a felony conviction, but said she thought the resolution was fair given his young age and lack of serious criminal history.

Judge Philip Pallenberg told Nierstheimer that if he gets caught again, he might not be so lucky.

“You can get a felony now at the age of 19, and you can be 50 years old and applying for a job and get turned down because you got a felony 30 years earlier. I would really hate to see that happen to you, so this is the time for you to make some changes in your life,” he said.

Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at emily.miller@juneauempire.com.

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