A former high school wrestling star was sentenced to 12!-W to 30 years in prison Monday for holding up clerks at Lancaster County businesses and farm markets at gunpoint.

Justo Roberto Smoker, 21, of Gap, was named an academic all-star in 2003 at Pequea Valley High School, earning a 3.0 grade point average in addition to a place on the Lancaster-Lebanon Wrestling All-Star team.

But last August, Smoker decided to commit several robberies and other crimes, using a BB gun to hold up store clerks in eastern Lancaster County.

Judge Joseph Madenspacher told Smoker that he could have fashioned a sentence that would have kept him in prison for twice as long, if not for the rest of his life.

Instead, Madenspacher said, he imposed a sentence intended to make sure "society is protected, but that you could still come out and lead a reasonable life."

In addition to the prison sentence, Smoker was ordered to pay $7,286 restitution.

Smoker had pleaded guilty in February.

Defense attorney Cory Miller told the judge that Smoker was living on the street, just trying to survive, when he was adopted at age 7 by Vernon and Deb Smoker of Lancaster.

"They raised me better than this," Smoker told the judge, pointing to his parents who were sitting in the back of the courtroom.

"I'm sorry for what I did and the people I hurt, including my family" he added. "But I'm glad they're here."

Mrs. Smoker told the judge that Justo has "been trouble since we got him," but they had seen an improvement in his attitude since he's been in county prison.

"We're are here for Justo," Mrs. Smoker added. "He has an extended family and church family," all of whom are committed to support him during his incarceration and after he is released.

Her husband told Madenspacher that they believe in punishment, but asked the judge for mercy.

Smoker was charged with committing four robberies with a BB gun, with his younger brother, Victor.

Assistant District Attorney Christopher Lechner asked for a mandatory minimum of five years in prison because a gun was used.

Victims did not know the gun was not real, Lechner noted.

Additional counts of burglary, conspiracy and receiving stolen property were included in the sentence imposed on Monday.

Charges against Victor Smoker are still pending.

CONTACT US: jkelley@lnpnews.com