The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

January 17, 2014

2-4 years ordered in Portage shooting

Kathy Mellott

EBENSBURG — A Portage man who pleaded guilty to shooting another man – an admission he later withdrew because he said he was acting in self-defense – was back in court on Thursday.

This time Benjamin Gordon Schoenfeld, 34, entered a no-contest plea to a charge of aggravated assault in exchange for dismissal of an attempted homicide charge.

Cambria County Judge Timothy Creany immediately sentenced Schoenfeld to serve two to four years in the Cambria County Prison.

Key in the sentence, said defense attorney Thomas Dickey, is that Schoenfeld will be granted automatic parole if he behaves himself during the first two years of the sentence.

“If he stays out of trouble, it’s automatic parole. After two years, he’s out,” Dickey said.

Even for an inmate with good behavior, Dickey said, the parole process often can be lengthy.

Creany said he was ordering the sentence to be served in the county prison so he can keep the case under his supervision.

Schoenfeld was charged with attempted homicide and aggravated assault following a December 2012 incident in which Portage police said he shot an acquaintance in a drug-related incident.

Police Chief Ed Miller said at the time that Schoenfeld, of the 900 block of Jefferson Avenue, Portage, pounded on the door of Donald Lewis III in the 600 block of Makin Street in the borough.

After Lewis came to the door, Schoenfeld shot him through the door’s glass window, striking him in the right shoulder.

Creany said the shot could have resulted in a homicide.

“This was not merely an assault, but one that could have led to death,” the judge said. “It was an egregious incident.”

Assistant District Attorney Beth Bolton Penna said that Schoenfeld not only shot Lewis, but at that time expressed disappointment that Lewis survived.

“He said he was sick of (Lewis), and when he found out he was living, became angry that the victim didn’t die,” Bolton Penna told the judge.

Schoenfeld was ordered to pay a $1,000 fine and court costs. He also agreed to forfeit the pistol used in the shooting.

Kathy Mellott covers the Cambria County Courthouse for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow her on Twitter at­thymellotttd.