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Recent 488-year prison sentence not the longest in AZ history

PHOENIX — Last week, a Tucson-area man was sentenced to 488 years in prison. While that might be one of the longest sentences in recent memory, it’s nowhere near the longest in Arizona history.

The Arizona Department of Corrections said that title belongs to 67-year-old Thomas Pierce, who is currently serving a multi-millennial sentence at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence.

“Thomas Pierce was convicted and sent to the Arizona Department of Corrections on 59 consecutive life sentences and an additional 22 consecutive 15-year sentences,” said Bill Lamoreaux, public information officer with the department.

That means Pierce was sentenced to roughly 2,395 years in prison. In other words, if he had been convicted during the time Cleopatra was queen of Egypt, he would still be facing about 350 years behind bars.

In total, Pierce was convicted on 81 charges related to sexual exploitation and sexual conduct with minors.

The longest prison sentences often involve sexual crimes against minors because of the seriousness of their penalties. For example, a single image of child pornography is punishable by 10 years in prison.

“For the most part (the longest sentences) are going to be sex crimes, which clearly (are) deemed as some of the worst crimes out there,” Lamoreaux said.

The recent case involving Ronald Gulli also involved sex crimes against minors. He was convicted on 26 counts of sexual exploitation and sexual conduct with a minor after child pornography was found on his computer.