A Jersey City man was sentenced to nearly 15 years in prison for committing an armed robbery at a Pennsylvania gas station almost four years ago, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
Brandon Garcia, 22, of Jersey City, was sentenced to 14 years and nine months (or 177 months) in prison and 4 years of supervised release by U.S. District Judge Jeffrey L. Schmehl for the armed robbery of a Speedway gas station and convenience store in Allentown, PA on March 28th, 2017.
In June 2019, the defendant pleaded guilty to multiple felonies arising from the 2017 robbery, including Hobbs Act robbery, and using, carrying or possessing a machine gun during a crime of violence.
During the robbery, the defendant used a long gun to threaten store employees while robbing the store.
Garcia poked one employee with the gun as he ordered him to “Get down!” and demanded employees provide him with cash and Newport cigarettes, which they did.
Meanwhile, a good Samaritan, who was coming to the Speedway to fill his car with gas, noticed the defendant wearing all black and running into the store with his hood up.
His suspicions were confirmed when he saw Garcia display his gun in the store. He immediately called 911 to report the robbery. When he saw Garcia run out of the store, the witness told the dispatch operator that he would follow the defendant.
The witness watched the robber get into a waiting silver vehicle parked in an alley and followed the car. As he did, he described where the car was driving to the 911 operator until law enforcement located both vehicles.
When officers stopped the silver car, they found two men inside, Garcia and his co-defendant Daequon Benjamin, who was driving.
The good Samaritan confirmed that the silver vehicle was the car he had followed from the Speedway, and officers found the black clothing, a sawed-off short-barreled rifle, cash and Newport cigarettes before arresting the defendants.
In pleading guilty to the charges associated with this incident, Garcia also admitted committing two additional, similar armed robberies in Allentown, PA (of a 7-11 convenience store and a Sunoco gas station and convenience store) a mere five days before the Speedway robbery.
During both of these earlier incidents, the defendant brandished the same sawed-off short-barreled rifle he brandished during the Speedway robbery.
“Brandon 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 in a statement.
“His crime spree endangered many lives and demonstrated his complete disregard for other people and for the law. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of the investigators on this case and the brave actions of a concerned citizen, this defendant has been brought to justice.”
The case was investigated by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Allentown Police Department, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Sarah Damiani.