A Palatine man, whose former girlfriend taped him admitting his involvement in a shooting and home invasion, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder Monday in Rolling Meadows.
Carmine Palella, the second defendant charged in the September 2009 home invasion and attempted murder of an Illinois State Lottery winner, was sentenced to 12 years in prison as part of his plea agreement. Palella, 48, received credit for 425 days in custody. He must complete at least 85 percent of his sentence before he is eligible for parole.
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His 43-year-old victim says he will rest a little easier now that two of the three men who invaded his residence and tried to kill him have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms.
"I'm glad it's over," said the Rolling Meadows homeowner who survived the four gunshot wounds he suffered during the invasion, which took place during the early morning hours of Sept. 6, 2009.
Palella's co-defendant Robert English was sentenced Friday to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted first-degree murder and home invasion. English, 35, admitted shooting the victim with a .25-caliber firearm after he and another man, who remains at large, broke into the victim's home to steal his lottery winnings.
Sometime after he won, the victim shared the news of his good fortune with his friend, Joseph Palella, brother to Carmine, who was with them at the time, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Mike Andre during Monday's hearing.
Palella admitted driving his co-defendants -- who wore dark clothes and masks -- to the victim's home and waiting in his truck while they entered by smashing the glass on the back door and breaking the frame. An altercation ensued involving the homeowner, another victim and the two defendants who fled in Palella's car following the shooting, Andre said.
Rolling Meadows police spoke with English's sister, who was dating Palella, and obtained a court order to tape a conversation between her and Palella, Andre said. During that conversation, Palella admitted on tape that he drove the others to the victim's home, Andre said. He later admitted to police that he and English concocted the scheme together, Andre said.
Palella declined to speak at his sentencing.
"It doesn't surprise me that you have nothing to say," said Cook County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Fecarotta, noting that Palella first appeared before him about a decade ago and that he has engaged in a "life of crime."
Palella's background includes 30-months probation for a 2007 conviction for possession of a controlled substance and 30-months probation for two 2006 cases of felony theft. Palella subsequently violated both probations and was sentenced to two years in prison, authorities said. He was also sentenced to 24-months probation for deceptive practices in 2004. A violation of that probation earned him a year in prison the following year, authorities said. Misdemeanor convictions for battery and possession of cannabis from 1993 and 1992 add to his criminal background, Andre said.
The victim praised Rolling Meadows detective Phil Barrile and Andre for their efforts, although he says he would have liked a longer sentence for Palella.
He still finds it hard to fathom that someone he's known for 30 years could have plotted against him, and he expressed concern about the defendant who got away.
But, he said, "It's all over with. Karma will take care of those guys."