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Teen pleads no contest in convenience store robberies

By Staff | Feb 12, 2009

A Cape Coral teen accused of robbing several gas station convenience stores last month has pleaded no contest to charges against him, officials with the State Attorney’s Office said Thursday.
Brian Robert Covello, 17, pleaded no contest to four counts of robbery Feb. 6, according to State Attorney’s Office spokesperson Samantha Syoen.
Police arrested Covello in January after accusing him of robbing four separate Circle K convenient stores in Cape Coral.
Covello will have a disposition hearing March 10 before Judge Bruce Kyle. After hearing recommendations by the Juvenile Justice Center, State Attorney’s Office and Covello’s defense attorney, Kyle will make a determination regarding Covello’s adjudication, Syoen said.
Covello’s attorney, Joseph Viacava of the Wilbur Smith Law Firm in Fort Myers, said Covello pleaded no contest in order to avoid facing possible prison time in the adult court system.
“He obviously has made a poor decision in respect to this situation,” Viacava said. “He’s a 17-year-old kid and clearly there’s some other issues surrounding it that will come out during sentencing.”
Covello made a poor choice, but an isolated one, and has excelled as a student at Canterbury School, he said.
“You don’t do that by accident,” Viacava said of Covello’s success in school.
If Covello pleaded not guilty, state attorneys could potentially direct-file, which means Covello would be treated as an adult and could face prison time, Viacava said.
“He’s made his mistake. He wants to pay his penance and do whatever he can, and hopefully the judge understands that, and he looks forward to a healthy and productive future,” he said.
Syoen said the state can direct-file depending on the specific circumstances of a case, including the age of the accused and the severity of the crime.
She did not say if the state had planned to direct-file in Covello’s case or what it will recommend to the judge for adjudication.