Jewelry Store Robbers Sentenced To 8 Years

February 10, 1991|By Jay Apperson | Jay Apperson,Staff writer

Two Virginia men were sentenced to eight years in prison Friday for their roles in an ill-fated jewelry store heist last April at Marley Station, a county prosecutor said.

Kenneth Robert Pittman, 29, of Burke, Va.; and Elie Emile Azar, 27, of Alexandria, Va. had pleaded guilty to armed robbery, conspiracy and handgun violations last October. Both men received eight years on each of the counts, but Circuit Judge Raymond G. Thieme Jr. ordered the sentences to be served concurrently, Assistant State's Attorney Frederick M. Paone said.

Thieme rejected a recommendation from Rex Smith, former head of juvenile services for the state, that Azar receive a minimal prison sentence followed by in-patient drug treatment, Paone said.

A third robber, Terrance Lynn McGraw, 29, of Annandale, Va., is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 25. McGraw, described in court by Paone as the ringleader of the heist, has pleaded guilty to armed robbery, conspiracy,handgun violations, false imprisonment and malicious destruction of property.

The men were convicted on charges stemming from the April 30 robberies at Shaw's Jewelers and Bailey Banks & Biddle Jewelers.Four men, armed with handguns and disguising themselves with wigs and makeup, split into teams of two and used identical methods to simultaneously rob the stores at about 10:30 that morning.

The men herded employees and customers into back rooms and ordered store managersto empty the contents of display cases into bags. They took about $400,000 in jewels from Shaw's, and another $600,000 to $700,000 worth was taken from Bailey Banks & Biddle.

But luck was not on the sideof the robbers, as security guards alerted two off-duty county police detectives who happened to be entering the mall. Within minutes, the detectives and other county officers were chasing a van through a neighborhood across Ritchie Highway from the mall.

During the chasethe men accosted a woman who pulled into her driveway on Phelps Avenue, attempted to steal her car and then break into her house.

Three of the men were arrested, and the fourth was arrested later in Florida. The men told police McGraw had recruited them for the robbery, which had been planned several days earlier.

Nearly all of the jewelry was recovered in the van.

Stephen Owens, 38, of Mount Airy, the fourth man charged in the robbery, is scheduled to be tried next week.

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