Lake: Can't leave his California prison cell alive until 2360
Lake: Can't leave his California prison cell alive until 2360

Did a Disneyland-area Hotel Burglar Receive Excessive Punishment?

While they enjoy Anaheim's world famous theme park, Disneyland visitors no longer must worry that their hotel rooms will be burglarized by relentless, serial thief John Lake.

Lake, who insisted on representing himself at his jury trial, is now living in a prison and he's not happy about his treatment by the Orange County criminal justice system--especially the impact of the state's Three Strikes law.

He believes his 350-year prison sentence is excessive.

This month, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Lake's complaints that his constitutional rights had been trampled by, in his view, rushing to trial before he was ready. (Never mind that he stalled the case for more than three years.)

A three-justice panel reviewed the trial and, after noting that the defendant's trial work had been "loquacious and tenacious," declared the proceedings righteous. They also reviewed Lake's criminal history and found it despicable.

Prior to his 12 felony convictions in 2010 stemming from burglaries inside an Anaheim Doubletree hotel, Lake's rap sheet included a 31-year crime spree with a whopping five strikes based on multiple convictions for: hit and run, check fraud, vandalism, driving on a suspended license, forgery, burglary, false identification to a police officer, receiving stolen property, grand theft and theft.

According to court records, Lake even stole his own mother's car, money and jewelry.

Stole from his own momma
Stole from his own momma

Superior Court Judge Richard M. King said before sentencing that Lake "is the person that the Three Strikes [law] is about."

He fared no better at the appellate court.

After declaring that the 350-year prison sentence wasn't constitutionally abusive given the number of crimes committed, Justice William W. Bedsworth noted that, "It is difficult to find fault with [Judge King's] conclusion."

Upshot: Lake will be 407 years old when he can return to society.

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--R. Scott Moxley


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