Bellefonte man who committed a string of smash-and-grab thefts is sentenced to state prison

A Bellefonte man was sentenced Thursday to at least a decade in state prison for a series of smash-and-grab thefts so expansive and severe a Centre County prosecutor described the crimes as nearly unprecedented in the county’s history.

Tre S. Estes-Stalnos, 22, was sentenced by Centre County Judge Brian Marshall to 10 1/2 to 21 years in state prison. He received credit for about 15 months served in the Centre County Correctional Facility and was ordered to pay more than $16,000 in restitution.

His crime spree continued unabated for more than seven months throughout the Centre and Nittany Valley regions. Businesses in the Nittany Mall, drugstore chains and vehicles in Bellefonte were among the places he burglarized between June 2021 and January 2022.

He also robbed two people at gunpoint at motels, even striking one of them in the head with a pistol. Firearms — which he was not legally allowed to posses — were used in most of the crimes.

Estes-Stalnos stole everything from firearms to drugs to money. Defense lawyer Steve Trialonas described him as someone “in the throes of a deep addiction.”

“He made some very poor decisions, but at heart I do believe he’s a good person,” Trialonas said. “He’s capable of change.”

Trialonas said Estes-Stalnos exhibited more accountability than any client he’s ever represented. Centre County First Assistant District Attorney Sean McGraw — whose legal career has spanned more than two decades — agreed.

The actions Estes-Stalnos took after his arrest included offering recorded confessions to each of the crimes he committed in a meeting with most of the municipal police departments in Centre County, state police at Rockview and the FBI.

He also wrote three letters to McGraw that touched on everything from his upbringing to drug addiction to a desire to rehabilitate himself. The letters totaled more than 3,300 words — about five times the length of this article.

Estes-Stalnos described his father as an “addict” he only saw in prison. He struggled to fit in with his peers, leading him to smoke marijuana during his freshman year of high school.

He did not have a job to pay for the drug, so he and his friends turned to “car hopping” — checking for unlocked vehicles and taking anything of value from them. He used LSD, cocaine, MDMA and Xanax before turning 18.

“I stopped putting any sort of effort into anything whatsoever and turned into the worst person I’ve seen myself be in my entire life. I was absolutely disgusting by any standards and didn’t care about anyone but myself,” Estes-Stalnos wrote. “That led to me really picking back up on crime to support my habit once again but it was a habit that I couldn’t fulfill by any means and nothing would suffice. I was so empty inside that without substance life was unbearable and with it things were barely tolerable.”

Estes-Stalnos pleaded guilty to more than two dozen charges, including felony counts of theft, burglary, robbery and prohibited possession of a firearm. He wrote he confessed because he “felt like I owed it to everyone who has been affected by my mayhem.”

In one of his letters to McGraw, he wrote he’d like to pursue a career as a paralegal or video graphic design.

He expressed remorse before his sentence was handed down, telling Marshall he would “do whatever it takes to make sure that I’m never in this position again.”

“You’ve expressed to me here in court today a desire to be a better person, be law-abiding. You’re going to be spending a lengthy period of time in an environment where many people probably don’t have that thought process,” Marshall told Estes-Stalnos. “I would encourage you to remember what you wrote to the DA, think of that and try to stay focused on where your thinking is now because it’s not going to be easy at times in there. I hope that you’re successful. It’s going to be a long haul, but I wish you the best.”