Kranich’s Jewelers robber sentenced to more than 20 years

For the CDTJune 3, 2014 

A State College police car is parked outside Kranich’s Jewelers after the downtown store was robbed Jan. 9, 2013.

CHRISTOPHER WEDDLE — CDT file photo Buy Photo

— A Philadelphia man who admitted he participated in an armed robbery of Kranich’s Jewelers in State College and the hold-up of a jewelry store in North Carolina has been sentenced to more than 20 years in prison.

U.S. Middle District Court Judge Matthew W. Brann on Tuesday went above the advisory guidelines when he sentenced Rodger Kent Williams, 43, to 201/2 years followed by 10 years’ supervised release. He also imposed a $1,500 fine.

Brann cited a lengthy record and noted that Williams had committed his first robbery when he was 14. The Jan. 29, 2013, jewelry store robbery in Cary, N.C., where he was arrested, occurred just 15 months after he had been released from prison, the judge said.

Kranich’s was robbed Jan. 9, 2013, after Williams and several others drove from Philadelphia to State College in separate vehicles.

Williams admitted entering the store with a .357 revolver and demanding keys to display cases. The others looted the display cases, placed the valuables in bags and returned to Philadelphia where they split the loot, he said.

The accomplices in both robberies have not been arrested, Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel said.

Williams pleaded guilty in December to two counts of interference with commerce by threats of violence and one count of using a firearm in a crime of violence. The North Carolina case had been transferred to Williamsport.

Jewelry taken in the State College robbery was valued at $950,000, and in the North Carolina hold-up at $549,450, according to Rocktashel, who argued for a stiff sentence.

Williams, who waived his appeal rights when he pleaded guilty, told the judge he did not anticipate returning to criminal ways when he got out of jail but that he was homeless and having a difficult time. That does not justify what he did, he said.

Assistant Public Defender D. Toni Byrd argued for a lesser sentence, noting that, even using the original guidelines, Williams would not likely return to crime due to his age when got out of prison. He is facing another 10 years for violating his state parole, she said.

The advisory guidelines recommended a sentence in the 97- to 121-month range on interference with commerce counts. The weapons charge requires a seven-year mandatory minimum.

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