A federal judge in Philadelphia sentenced a New Jersey man to a plea-bargained 14 years and nine months in prison for robbing a Pennsylvania gas station convenience store with a sawed-off rifle.
Brandon Garcia, 22, of Jersey City, poked one Allentown Speedway station employee with the gun as he ordered him to “get down!” while demanding cash and Newports during one of the robberies on March 28, 2017, Acting U.S. Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams said.
A good Samaritan who’d pulled in for gas saw Garcia all dressed in black with his hood up and holding a gun, so he dialed 911.
The citizen then followed Garcia as he ran out of the store and got into a vehicle parked in an alley that sped off.
Thanks to the witness, police stopped the car a short time later and seized both Garcia and the driver, Daequon Benjamin, Williams said.
Officers found the black clothing, a sawed-off short-barreled rifle, cash and the Newports, the U.S. attorney said.
While pleading guilty to that incident, Garcia admitted to similar robberies in Allentown – of a 7-Eleven and a Sunoco gas station/convenience store – just five days before the Speedway holdup, Williams said.
He used the same sawed-off rifle in both, she said.
Garcia took a deal from the government rather than go to trial.
He pleaded guilty in June 2019 to several felonies stemming from the Speedway holdup, including Hobbs Act robbery and using a machine gun during a violent crime.
Garcia must serve nearly the entire sentence handed down by U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl because there’s no parole in the federal prison system.
The sentence secured by Assistant United States Attorney Sarah Damiani also includes four years of supervised release.
Garcia “robbed three businesses within a one week, all at gunpoint, terrorizing the employees and patrons of those stores and the surrounding community,” Williams said. “His crime spree endangered many lives and demonstrated his complete disregard for other people and for the law.”
She credited the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Allentown Police Department for the arrest and investigation.
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