An Easton man, convicted earlier this year of various criminal counts, including attempted rape of an elderly woman, was sentenced on Tuesday afternoon to a long state prison term.
John Anthony Vega, 29, was sentenced by President Judge Roger N. Nanovic II to serve a total of 16 to 37 years in a state prison on counts of attempted rape, indecent assault, and burglary. The sentence is a virtual life in jail term as Nanovic ruled it runs consecutive to sentences Vega is now service and which were imposed in Lehigh and Northampton counties.
In Lehigh County Vega was convicted of similar acts as in the Carbon case and was sentenced to serve 30 to 64 years in a state prison. In Northampton County he pleaded to burglary and related counts and was sentenced to serve 18 to 36 years in a state prison. All the terms run consecutive to each other.
Vega was charged by state police with entering the home of a then 77-year-old woman in Lower Towamensing Township on Oct. 21, 2007, and attempting to rape her. He fled the home when he thought someone was in the home. He returned to the same home on May 31, 2008, and attacked the woman in a second floor hallway. She screamed for help and a person who was living with her responded which caused Vega to flee the home.
Following a the three day trial in January the jury panel found him guilty of two counts each of criminal attempt - rape by forcible compulsion, burglary, and criminal trespass, three counts of indecent assault, and one count of simple assault.
Prior to the sentencing a sexual predators hearing was held and Nanovi ruled that Vega was a sexual violent predator and must register for life as a sexual offender.
Yesterday Vega continued to deny he was guilty and that he never assaulted the woman. He told Nanovic, "The truth will come out."
Defense Attorney Kent Watkins, court-appointed, said Vega will appeal the verdict.
Trooper Christopher Bonin, who is the prosecutor, asked Nanovic to impose the maximum sentence allowed by law calling Vega a "clear and present danger" to the public,
Assistant District Attorney Jean A. Engler asked Nanovic to imposed a long prison term. She said in her 25 years in the DA's office this case was most disturbing.
She thanked the state police for their hard work. She also praised the "bravery" of the victim who had to endure many court appearances and testify at the trial despite failing health.
She called Vega a coward and asked Nanovic make him accountable for his acts.
Engle said, "He is a menace and threat to society." She said the defendant has shown a pattern of increased criminal activity and asked Nanovic to sentence him in the aggravated range of state sentencing guidelines.
Nanovic told Vega despite his continued denial of the acts, the court had to follow the verdict of the jury which found him guilty of "heinous acts."
He said the victim was elderly and thus vulnerable and noted his conviction in Lehigh County for similar acts. Nanovic said the sentence must serve as a warning to the public that such criminal activity will not be tolerated and that those who commit such acts "will be punished, and punished harshly."
In addition to the jail term Nanovic ordered Vega to supply a DNA sample, get both drug and alcohol and mental health evaluations, submit to a sexual offenders evaluation, must follow all provisons of Megan's Law including the lifetime registeration, and have no contact with the victim.
Vega was not entitled to any jail credit on the sentence as he was held on the charges filed in the two other counties.