Getaway driver receives probation in armed robbery
Severt receives stayed prison sentence
January 26, 2011 | 11:04 AMElkhorn — The getaway driver in an armed robbery was promised cocaine and $20 for his role in the crime.
Instead, Ryan T. Severt, 20, 300 Randolph St., was arrested and charged with armed robbery, as a party to a crime, a felony which carries a maximum sentence of 40 years imprisonment.
"It is a crime where you get money for wearing a mask and pointing a gun in someone's face," Deputy District Attorney Joshua Grube said. "It is a prison case."
However, a pre-sentence investigation — a report generated by the Department of Corrections which reviews past criminal behavior, social traits and the impact the crime had on victims — recommended probation, which included a year in the Walworth County Jail.
"I have no idea how the PSI came up with that recommendation," Grube said. "It certainly seems to be a recommendation that should be posted to a different set of facts."
Walworth County Circuit Court Judge David Reddy imposed and stayed a 10-year prison sentence, which is split into five years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision. A stayed sentence is only served if the defendant violates the terms of his probation.
Severt also was sentenced to eight years of probation, which includes a year of Huber with work release privileges. Severt won't receive any jail time credit for the time he spent in Walworth County Jail while his case was pending.
"You are one straw shy of breaking the camel's back for going to prison," Reddy told Severt.
A co-defendant in the case, Seth Woodhouse, 19, Walworth, was sentenced to five years of initial confinement and five years of extended supervision. He is eligible for the challenge incarceration program, which could allow for an early release.
Both Severt and Woodhouse face charges in Illinois for armed robberies they allegedly committed there.
When Severt addressed the court, he said he has grown in the jail and is working on his sobriety.
"In the past 11 months, not one day has gone by that I have not thought about the people I hurt," Severt said. "My actions were unacceptable and inexcusable. I realize the hurt and fear I have caused."
Severt's attorney, Frank Lettenberger, said his client immediately began taking responsibility for his actions. He also didn't continue to commit crimes when he saw lights flashing behind him.
"He pulled over immediately despite the urging of the co-actor to flee," Lettenberger said.
Severt's former employers also spoke on his behalf.
Phillip Rogers, owner of PLR Performance, Delavan, said Severt worked for him before his arrest and if Severt was granted work release privileges, he would hire him back.
"He was an excellent employee, trustworthy, and he would get to work early," Rodgers said. "He is a helpful person. There's nothing he wouldn't do for anybody."
Bruce Nelson, the former director of public works in the village of Walworth, also spoke on Ryan's behalf.
Nelson said Severt was a good employee when he worked for him.
"I couldn't believe it when I found out about the whole situation," Nelson said.
Ryan's mother, Penny, said her son suffers from Crohn's disease and struggled academically during school. Despite his challenges, he graduated from the alternative high school with high honors.
"Ryan likes to better himself and has shown a great amount of remorse," Penny said.
Penny said her son missed his father's funeral because he was incarcerated.
"I think having to bury his dad while in jail is enough to scare him straight," Penny said.