November 23, 2010
A man convicted of causing damage in Oakland during the G-20 protests will likely be spending the holidays behind bars, an Allegheny County judge ruled Tuesday.
David Japenga, 21, was sentenced to six to 18 months in the county jail for his August conviction of four misdemeanors and a felony for breaking windows at Citizens Bank, Irish Design Center and Quizno’s on Sept. 24, 2009, while world leaders met in the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown.
Common Pleas Judge Edward J. Borkowski declined a request from Japenga’s attorney to sentence him to the four months he already served in the Uptown lockup since his conviction. Prosecutors sought a state prison sentence of one to two years.
“I had hoped he’d be released to be with his family for Thanksgiving and Christmas,” defense attorney Patrick Nightingale said.
Japenga told the judge that his time in jail and on house arrest with an electronic ankle bracelet made him reflect on his life. Since moving from California to Pittsburgh in the months before the Group of 20 summit, Japenga said he liked living in Pittsburgh.
But the judge held up a flier police found in the house Japenga was living in with several people after he was arrested. The flier read, “We want to riot, not work.”
“It appears to me you came into Allegheny County solely for the purpose to engage in this conduct,” Borkowski said.
Japenga said the house was filled with many people with different personalities. “I didn’t come to Pittsburgh to riot. I came here to live here,” he said. “It was not my motive to destroy property.”
About a dozen of Japenga’s friends attended the sentencing but declined comment.
Nightingale said his client was working as a messenger before his incarceration and that job was waiting for him when he got out.
Assistant District Attorney Kevin Chernosky argued Japenga was responsible for about $15,000 in damage to the three businesses on Fifth Avenue and Craig Street. Japenga must pay that money back as part of his sentence. Borkowski imposed five years of probation.
Police arrested about 200 people during demonstrations in Oakland and elsewhere in the city.