A former San Jose State football player pleaded no contest Wednesday to a burglary spree that spanned four Bay Area counties and included the Palo Alto home of the late Steve Jobs, Apple's co-founder.
Kariem McFarlin, 35, of Alameda, was convicted of eight felony counts of residential burglary and one felony count of selling stolen property. He could face up to seven years and eight months in prison when sentenced on Jan. 17.
Shackled and dressed in a dark green Santa Clara County Department of Correction jumpsuit, McFarlin told Superior Court Judge Rodney Stafford he understood the consequences of his plea. Stafford was filling in Wednesday for presiding Judge Thang Nguyen Barrett.
McFarlin was initially charged with just one count each of residential burglary and selling stolen property after being arrested Aug. 2 in Alameda on suspicion of breaking into Jobs' home. An investigation by the Bay Area's Rapid Enforcement Allied Computer Team uncovered seven other burglaries in Alameda, Marin and San Francisco counties.
Prosecutors in the other counties agreed to resolve all of the burglary cases in Santa Clara County, said Deputy District Attorney Thomas Flattery, who filed an amended criminal complaint Wednesday.
"I think it's a good outcome," Flattery said about McFarlin's no contest plea. "I think the case demonstrates a couple of things. Really, it's a good example of judicial economy and cooperation between the various counties
McFarlin could have received a maximum of 16 years and four months behind bars, but Barrett offered to cap the sentence at seven years and eight months in exchange for the no contest plea, Flattery said outside the judge's Palo Alto courtroom.
As part of the plea agreement, McFarlin will not face charges based on other property recovered through the investigation or information contained on his cellphone, said McFarlin's private defense attorney, James Kellenberger.
"I don't want you to think that was something we bargained away," Flattery told The Daily News. "There's just nothing else we can prove and Mr. McFarlin wanted some finality. It was a fair request."
The sentence McFarlin receives will ultimately be based on several factors, including an assessment of the crimes and victim impact statements.
McFarlin's willingness to cooperate with authorities could also play a role. Police previously said he confessed to breaking into Jobs' home on July 17 and stealing a treasure-trove of goodies ranging from iPads to Tiffany & Co. jewelry to kitchen blenders.
"I'll tell you, Mr. McFarlin was upfront from the start and admitted his involvement and was willing to resolve (the cases) in what I thought was a very efficient manner," Flattery said.
Between March 4, 2011, and July 17, 2012, McFarlin targeted homes in affluent neighborhoods that appeared vacant while under construction or being remodeled, said Flattery.
In addition to the Jobs' burglary, McFarlin admitted breaking into two homes in Marin County, four homes in San Francisco County and one home in Alameda County. He also told investigators he kept hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property, including computers, jewelry, furniture and a solid silver bar, at his home and storage locker in Alameda.
But Kellenberger said his client isn't a career criminal. McFarlin received a football scholarship to San Jose State University, graduated from college and held various jobs over the past 15 years. The burglary spree started after he lost his most recent job as a medical supplies salesman.
"It's the story of a guy who was doing OK, lost his job, ran out of funds and ended up homeless," Kellenberger said.
Bay Area News Group staff writer Mark Gomez contributed to this report.