Spy-cam finale: Former UVA law student sentenced
Joshua Gomes, the second-year UVA law student arrested for breaking into Carruthers Hall and planting a coat-hook camera in the registrar's office, got a three-year suspended sentence in court December 18.
Judge Edward Hogshire also ordered Gomes, 26, who now lives in Connecticut, to remain on good behavior for 10 years.
Gomes was arrested early December 7, 2011, outside Carruthers after employees noticed the new, adhesive-backed coathook on the wall and discovered a memory card in it. Upon examination, they found the hook-cam and a time-stamped image from 3am December 6 with Gomes looking into the camera, which was trained on the official transcript printer.
Originally charged with two felony counts of armed burglary and one of possession of burglary tools, Gomes pleaded guilty to one felony breaking and entering charge in August. Hogshire denied his attorney's request to reduce it to a misdemeanor.
The picture painted of Gomes at the August plea hearing was of a young man stressed out by debt, the demands of law school, parenthood, and marriage, and who was diagnosed with a pituitary tumor in 2011.
According to a statement of facts from Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Joe Platania, Gomes was attempting to intercept a request for a transcript from a large New York law firm where he had a summer internship because he had "inaccurately" reported his GPA.
His father and wife filed statements on his behalf December 18 detailing his increasingly erratic behavior.
"He started to become distant and disconnected, which was striking because he was usually very close and personable," his father, the Reverend John Gomes, wrote of his son's behavior during winter break of his first year at UVA Law School.
Besides the pituitary tumor, Gomes also had another medical condition, according to this father.
"The fit, positive, and upbeat guy who I had fallen in love with was now out of shape, his hair was beginning to thin, and he seemed much more reserved, as if he had too much on his mind," wrote Chelsea Gomes about her husband's behavior in the spring of 2011.
He lacked energy to get off the couch, she said, and became "irrational and secretive."
"Oftentimes in determining an appropriate sentencing recommendation, prosecutors look to those that a particular crime has impacted," says prosecutor Platania. "In this case, there really wasn't an identifiable victim. Ultimately, the person most affected by the actions of Mr. Gomes was Mr. Gomes. I think Judge Hogshire recognized that and imposed a fair and appropriate sentence."
Gomes' attorney, Bonnie Lepold, declined to comment.