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Stevenson enters guilty plea He will testify against Bender

A Clinton County man who prosecutors say helped a doctor supply young people with drugs and alcohol for sexual favors, entered a guilty plea yesterday, just three days into his trial.
Gilbert J. Stevenson Jr., 29, of Avis said in exchange for the plea agreement deal, he would be willing to testify against Dr. Barry Bender, 55, during the Tyrone man’s April trial in Hollidaysburg.
“The long and the short of it is is that we got through three days of trial,” said Michael T. Madeira, a senior deputy attorney general who prosecuted the case for the commonwealth. “The last thing we had to put on in the trial was the defendant’s confession. I think that’s when he realized that he would probably be far better off if he would cooperate with the commonwealth and admit what he done to the court.”
The plea arrangement calls for Stevenson to enter guilty pleas to six counts of delivery of cocaine, and single charges of delivery of ecstasy, delivery of PCP, conspiracy to deliver controlled substances, providing alcohol to minors and corrupting the morals of minors.. In exchange, the commonwealth will “nolle prose,” or drop, several other charges, including sexual exploitation of children.
Stevenson’s attorney, Peter Campana, said Stevenson agreed to the plea agreement because prosecutors fashioned it to exclude the sex offenses, of which he said Stevenson was innocent.
“I’m thrilled with the outcome of this case,” Madeira told The Daily Herald this morning. “The deal that has been reached is something I’m pleased about because I still have a trial against the chief perpetrator.”
Madeira said the victims in the case are also in agreement with the deal.
“The witnesses would have loved not to have testified in this case,” he said. “They would have loved to see him take this before. Some of them didn’t want to testify because they felt some kind of loyalty or friendship to him. But everybody knew that what he did was wrong.”
According to Madeira, the plea worked out is an open plea, meaning the sentencing judge, Hiram Carpenter, has the ability to fashion any sentence he wishes, within state sentencing guidelines. Madeira and Campana will both have the opportunity to make whatever arguments they want during a hearing to determine what incarceration sentence Stevenson will receive.
“The statutory maximum on the entire case for Stevenson equaled out to about 219 years,” said Madeira, “but the reality is the statutory maximum is just that.
“If the judge decided to stack everything on top of another, we’re probably looking along the lines of 20 years. It’s entirely up to the judge.”
However, Stevenson’s sentencing will not occur until after Bender’s trial, scheduled to begin April 14. Madeira said if Stevenson, during Bender’s trial, decided not to cooperate with the commonwealth, the plea agreement may be rejected or the terms may change.
“We would have two choices in a situation like that,” he said. “We could either revoke the plea and go back to trial, or, more precisely and what is likely to happen, we would tell the court that he reneged on the deal and that he shouldn’t receive any benefit because he did not cooperate.”
According to a spokesperson from the Blair County Court Administrator’s office, Bender has pre-trial conferences scheduled for March 14 and 24. Jury selection for the case is scheduled for March 31.
Officials believe Bender’s trial will take about ten days to complete.