Shane Lamb — a key witness in the infamous 2002 disappearance and presumed murder of a Johnsburg teenager — told a McHenry County judge today that when he is out of prison in his latest case he wants “to come out a better man.”
Lamb, 30, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for stealing a safe from the home of a friend last April.
In January, he pleaded guilty to aggravated possession of a stolen firearm, in exchange prosecutors dropped three remaining charges.
Lamb admitted that he stole a safe from the McHenry townhouse of John Farenzena.
Farenzena testified Thursday that he had known Lamb for about 18 years and that he was a friend to Lamb when no one else was. Then he went on vacation and when he returned home found his 600-pound safe had been stolen. Witnesses identified Lamb in a police lineup as the thief, authorities said.
The safe contained 12 firearms, 10,000 rounds of ammunition, silver, a watch, 1/2 carat diamond and memorabilia. Police say that three of the 12 guns have been recovered as have some memorabilia. Prosecutors said they have knowledge of the guns being used in crimes in Chicago and Elk Grove Village. They fear what other crimes will be committed with the nine remaining guns unaccounted for.
Lamb has a lengthy criminal history that includes prison time for aggravated battery and drugs. However, he is best known as a key witness who testified against Mario Casciaro in two murder trials. His testimony landed Casciaro in prison in 2013 for the murder of Brian Carrick, 17. Carrick was last seen alive in Casciaro’s family grocery store in Johnsburg on Dec. 20, 2002. Lamb testified in those trials that at Casciaro’s direction he delivered what might have been a fatal punch to Carrick to collect on a $500 drug debt the night he disappeared. Carrick’s body has never been found.
Lamb has since recanted his story and Casciaro is appealing his conviction.
In court today there was no mention of the Casciaro case or Carrick.
Instead, Lamb apologized to Farenzena.
He told McHenry County Judge Sharon Prather that “I have been in and out of prison my whole life.” He said while he had a mentally ill mother, his father “tried his hardest” to raise him and his three brothers.
Lamb, recently diagnosed with bipolar, admitted that he has often turned to drugs and alcohol to deal with pain, especially when his son died of sudden infant death syndrome at just 45 days old and when his older brother committed suicide.
He said he would seek treatment for alcohol and drugs while in prison.
Lamb’s father, Dan Sinkovitz said his son was a good boy until age 14 when he was involved in an attempted robbery with another juvenile. In the robbery a woman was shot and injured. The other juvenile was sent to a rehabilitation center in Colorado, while his son served hard time in a St. Charles juvenile detention center, he said.
“It was a terrible place,” Sinkovitz said.
He said his son was incarcerated with older boys and that guards and other inmates beat him up regularly.
“He was there 3 1/2 years,” Sinkovitz said. “Fighting was a way of life. When he came out he was hardened.”
In asking for a 12 year sentence, Lamb’s attorney Paul De Luca said his client deserves a chance at rehabilitation and a life after prison.
“He is aware that if he commits another crime he faces life in prison,” De Luca said.
“He’s not just this raging maniac out here.”
De Luca noted that Lamb has a girlfriend waiting for him who he wants to build a life with and an ailing father who needs his help. He said Lamb is remorseful for steeling from Farenzena and he also worries about the guns being out on the street.
Calling Lamb “vile” and his defense “nonsense” and “a lot of excuses,” Assistant State’s Attorney Robert Zalud rebuked any sentimental explanation of Lamb’s criminal history.
“Shane Lamb is being portrayed as a victim of the system … (somehow) we got it wrong … he is a victim,” Zalud said. “His dad said he helped him, his parents helped him, he has had support. How long do we have to pay until he learns how to grow up?”
Zalud said anytime Lamb is not in prison he is just playing “a waiting game for his next victim.”
“Shane Lamb is in a free fall,” Zalud said. “There is no bottom for this guy. He is going to continue to commit more crimes. He is incredibly selfish and he is incredibly violent.”
Prather acknowledged that Lamb had a rough life, but said it is his own fault that he continues to get into trouble.
“Your pain doesn’t justify you inflicting pain on others,” Prather said. “Everybody makes mistakes … this is going to be your fourth trip to (prison). If you don’t change your life … you will spend your life in prison or die.”
Lamb listened intently and nodded his head as Prather spoke directly to him.
“The court does not take pleasure in handing down heavy sentences, but you brought this on yourself,” Prather said.
Lamb also must pay $15,000 to Farenzena for restitution. He will receive one year’s credit for time served since his arrest last April. He is required to serve 50 percent of the sentence, so he could be out of prison in nine years.