POTTSVILLE -- People packed into a courtroom at the Schuylkill County Courthouse to praise a man convicted of stealing from an elderly couple.
Alfonso Picone was convicted of stealing $315,000 from an older couple. He was in court Monday for his sentencing.
On one half of the room, four or five people were there for the victims in this case. On the other side, it was standing room only.
Many wrote letters to the judge and even testified to Picone's character, calling him a community model and asking the judge for leniency.
In the end, bail was revoked, handcuffs were put on, and a judge sent businessman Alfonso Picone to jail.
"It's not fair, but what can I do? This is what they decide to do. Guess what. The man is the judge up there, God," Picone said.
Picone was convicted in September of swindling more than $300,000 from an elderly couple. He was hoping to walk out of his sentencing with only probation. Especially after he packed the courthouse with more than 100 supporters.
"I want to thank everybody. I love each one. The people in the room I love them very much. They are my friends," he said.
"We all love him, and we all think he is a wonderful, wonderful man. I saw nothing but good in Alfie, and Alfie did nothing but good for everyone," said Carolyn Philapavage, a friend of Picone.
People like Philapavage came to court to support Picone at his sentencing and testify on his behalf, hoping to convince the judge Picone deserved a lenient sentence.
"He's a good guy. The best they come. He is like a son to me," said another supporter.
Many of those people were emotional on their way out of court after the judge sent Picone to jail, telling him, "I wonder how many people would be testifying for you today, if you took advantage of their parents instead of the Burnards."
The judge sentenced Picone to at least 18 months and up to five years. He told everyone in the courtroom there are two Alfonso Picones: one that many testified on behalf of, a community man, a nice man, and the other, a man who took advantage of two elderly people by stealing essentially their entire retirement fund.
"I only know one Alfie, the good one. The other, they created a monster that doesn't even exist," Picone said.
On top of jail time, Picone was ordered to pay back all the money he stole, but the judge said in court, he doubts that will happen, citing that Picone has owed the state more than a million dollars in sales taxes but has found a way to avoid the state coming after him financially by having accounts in his mother's name.