Amazing, no jail time for AA Member Branko Busick who was arrested on felony assault charges. Even though a gun was used in one of the assaults that included robbery, this man walks free. His AA sponsor was a character reference, and spoke about Branko Busick at trial! So much for AA trying to say they are not affiliated with the judicial system, and helping criminals with the “AA get out of jail card!”
No Jail Time For Former Mountaineer
Former West Virginia University linebacker Branko Busick avoided jail time Tuesday when Monongalia County Circuit Judge Russell Clawges issued a sentence of five years probation on felony charges of assault while in commission of a felony.
In February, Busick pleaded guilty to two felony counts stemming from incidents in Morgantown last summer. He admitted to beating and attempting to rob one man along Walnut Street on June 23. Less than three weeks later, on July 11, Busick and another man, Nicholas Conques, robbed another man at a High Street apartment. A gun was allegedly used during that attempted robbery.
During sentencing Tuesday, defense attorney David Jividen called five character witnesses to testify on behalf of Busick.
The witnesses included Jefferson County Prosecuting Attorney Jane Hanlin, who testified Busick had a stellar reputation in his hometown of Steubenville, Ohio.
“His reputation is one of the nicest kids to come out of Steubenville High School,” Hanlin said. “Branko is beloved.”
Hanlin, who is married to a police detective, added that vouching for a defendant goes against her intuition as a prosecutor. But she said after knowing Busick, she had to testify in person. She said her son and Busick wrestled in high school together and Busick had always been a good example for her son.
“I would leave my son in Branko’s car right now,” Hanlin said. “I think it is a mistake that will never happen again.”
A former special agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration, a family friend, and Busick’s Alcoholic Anonymous sponsor also testified on his behalf. Fellow former WVU linebacker Reed Williams took the stand and called Busick “a brother.”
“Branko would take his shirt off his back for me or any other player on our team,” Williams said. Busick’s actions last summer were an aberration and out of character, Williams said.
Before being handed his sentence, Busick turned to the courtroom and expressed his regret.
“I am truly sorry for what I’ve put everyone through,” Busick said. “I promise you I will not be back again.”
Jividen argued that the large number of witness statements from those in the law enforcement field showed that Busick was not a typically criminal. Instead, he was a kid who “made a stupid mistake,” Jividen said.
“Take a chance on Branko,” Jividen asked Judge Clawges.
Monongalia County Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Perri DeChristopher admitted the case was unusual because Busick did not fit the stereotypical description of most people who go through the justice system. She said prosecutors struggled to understand Busick’s motivation in the case.
The case also baffled Clawges.
“I still can’t figure out why we’re here in this case,” Clawges said. “I can’t imagine what possessed you to throw away all you had for drugs and alcohol.
“I’ve seen people throw a lot away, but not as much as you,” Clawges said. “You are young and you can turn it around.”
Sentencing guidelines called for two to 10 years in prison on both counts. Clawges suspended those sentences and ordered Busick serve five years probation.
As part of the probation, Busick cannot use alcohol or dugs, is prohibited from entering bars or frequent restaurants with excessive alcohol consumption, must continue treatment with AA, and is subject to random drug testing. If Clawges said he will order Busick to the North Central Regional Jail if Busick does not adhere to probation restrictions.
After sentencing, Jividen said he was happy with Clawges’ decision. He said Busick got sucked into a bad situation last summer when he hung out with co-defendant Nicholas Conques. Jividen said Conques provided Busick with high doses of Xanax prior to the attacks. Busick had never taken the drug and blacked out numerous occasions. “We actually talked about using that as a defense, but Branko didn’t want to do that. He wanted to admit he was wrong,” Jividen said. “It actually kind of hampered our defense.”
According to Jividen, Conques lured Busick into thinking the robberies would be easy. Conques wanted to use the solidly built Busick as an enforcer, Jividen said.
Busick will also have to pay more than $2,000 in restitution, perform 250 hours of community service and keep a steady job. He will not be permitted to leave move out of Hancock County without court permission.
Busick declined to comment on advice of his attorney, but Jividen said his client ruined a wonderful opportunity at WVU.
“He is obviously guilty of the assault, but he’s also guilty of felony stupidity, first-degree felony stupidity,” Jividen said. “He had everything.”
Before adjourning the courtroom, Clawges had one final piece of advice for Busick.
“People, places and things — you need to change them all,” he said.