BY JULIE MANGANIS
---- — SALEM — A former Lawrence man admitted yesterday to meticulously planning an escape from the old Salem Superior courthouse nearly five years ago, while awaiting trial for a violent home invasion in Haverhill, which he also admitted to yesterday.
Miguel Angel Caraballo’s guilty pleas in Salem Superior Court were part of a package deal negotiated by his lawyer with prosecutors and judges in two states.
Caraballo, 42, will serve a total of 14 years in prison for the escape and charges related to the home invasion. He will also serve concurrent sentences for breaking and entering, motor vehicle theft, and conspiracy in six other Massachusetts counties and for the 2007 robbery of a jewelry store in Kittery, Maine, according to court documents.
The deal also covers a probation violation in a 1998 New Hampshire case.
Caraballo was surrounded by at least five court officers yesterday as he made his appearance in the new Salem Superior Court to plead guilty in the local cases.
Prosecutor A.J. Camelio described how Caraballo was one of three men who broke into a Haverhill home just before Christmas in 2007, armed with a bat and a gun, and beat a house guest they found inside before stealing valuables and the homeowner’s Mercedes-Benz.
Caraballo was arrested the following April in Lowell, after one of his co-defendants was identified using a credit card that had been stolen from the home.
Since then, he’s been linked to similar crimes in Norfolk, Middlesex, Worcester, Hampshire and Franklin counties.
A couple of months after his arrest, Caraballo was being brought to court in June 2008 when, with the help of two women, he escaped. Investigators said Caraballo had used another inmate’s identity to make a series of calls to arrange for the women to get a car and wait near the rear of the courthouse on Bridge Street on the day he was set to appear in court for a hearing.
Caraballo, wearing handcuffs and leg shackles, hopped off of a sheriff’s department transport van and into the waiting car, which was later found abandoned, a pair of bolt cutters inside. He was arrested 38 hours later in Dracut.
The plea deal, accepted yesterday by Judge John Lu, imposed jail terms on the charges of kidnapping, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon, felony larceny, larceny of a motor vehicle and escape.
After his release Caraballo will also have to serve 10 years of probation on the most serious charge, home invasion, which carries a minimum mandatory 20 years in prison if a committed sentence is imposed. That means that if he violates his probation, he’s facing that much more time behind bars.
One of Caraballo’s co-defendants in the Haverhill home invasion, William Guzman Jr., was also later convicted of attempting to escape by stealing an ambulance outside Beverly Hospital and leading police on a chase through four communities before he got caught in traffic in Lynn.
Courts reporter Julie Manganis can be reached at 978-338-2521, via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @SNJulieManganis.