RACINE — It sounded like something straight out of a cartoon on TV: A group of people allegedly tried to steal some cars by building a makeshift ramp out of logs.
And just like those cartoons, the alleged plot failed when a 2014 Kia Cadenza became stuck. Witnesses on the lot alerted security that three males were trying to build a ramp where a hole had been cut in the fence, according to their criminal complaints.
That landed Lewis Hicks, 20, of Milwaukee, in a Racine County courtroom on Friday, where he was sentenced for trying to steal cars on Sept. 9 from Manheim Auto Auction, 561 27th St., Raymond.
“That sounds like something out of a cartoon. That shows how foolish this is,” defense attorney Brian Dimmer said.
Racine County Circuit Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz ordered Hicks to serve three years on probation for his first offense. He told Hicks, who works at McDonald’s, that for a first offense, this was a “whopper.”
“Really, the absurdity of what you were doing here,” Gasiorkiewicz began. “The ramp, from an engineering standpoint, would never work.”
Per the plea agreement, Assistant District Attorney Gerad Dougvillo said he agreed to recommend the punishment recommended by a probation agent: two to three years on probation. He said Hicks wasn’t the mastermind, but “this was planned out and multiple trips (were) taken down from Milwaukee to the auto auction.” However, it appeared “peer pressure” came into play.
Gasiorkiewicz, though, rejected the notion Hicks succumbed to peer pressure.
“You’re a father,” he told Hicks, whose then-pregnant girlfriend, Vernisha T. Ashby, 18, of Milwaukee, also is charged. “You’re a man now. You’re not a boy. Men are not followers.”
Hicks said he’s learned from the experience and it “makes me a better person.” He pleaded guilty on Dec. 9 to two counts of being a party to the crime of attempted theft.
“This was the one day he was part of something very, very wrong. He considers probation a blessing,” Dimmer said of Hicks during the sentencing.
Ashby’s plea hearing is set for March 3.
A sentencing hearing is set for March 16 for Devante J. Fells, 18. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 11 to two counts of being a party to the crime of attempted theft and one of felony bail jumping, court records show.
Trevion D. Sims, 38, is due back in court on March 3 and his trial is set for April 28.
Kjohnti O. Upshaw, 18, is scheduled to be sentenced on April 27. He pleaded guilty on Feb. 13 to being a party to the crime of attempted theft and two counts of being a party to the crime of criminal damage to property. All are from Milwaukee.
After being spotted at the lot, the group allegedly fled. Racine County Sheriff’s Office deputies stopped the vehicle after it exited at 27th Street. Inside, deputies found bolt cutters and a digital weight scale with green residue on it that smelled of marijuana, according to the complaints.
Sheriff’s deputies reported finding a 6-foot hole cut in the chain-link fence with a black backpack and bolt cutters next to it, according to the criminal complaint. Upshaw allegedly tried to move a Range Rover, but couldn’t move it from its spot, and Hicks couldn’t move a Kia Optima because it was blocked in by other cars, the complaints state.