Philadelphia man admits to roles in Kranich’s Jewelers robbery, North Carolina holdup

A Philadelphia man has admitted he participated in the January armed robbery of Kranich’s Jewelers in State College and the hold-up of a jewelry store in North Carolina.

Rodger Kent Williams, 42, is facing a maximum life sentence but could get less if he cooperates with authorities as promised. Other men were involved in each of the robberies, and they have not been arrested.

The robbers netted nearly $1.5 million in jewelry, rings, watches and other valuables from the two stores, including $950,000 from Kranich’s, Assistant U.S. Attorney George J. Rocktashel said Tuesday in outlining the government’s evidence.

On Jan. 9, Williams and several others drove from Philadelphia to State College in separate vehicles, the prosecutor said. Williams admitted going into the store with a .357 revolver and demanding keys to display cases.

The others placed the valuables in bags and returned to Philadelphia where they split the loot, he said.

On Jan. 29, a similar robbery occurred at J.M. Edwards Fine Jewelry in Cary, N.C., and Williams admitted he again displayed the same revolver. Several others who had driven in a separate vehicle from Philadelphia cleaned out the display cases, Rocktashel said.

The robbers planned to leave by the front door but saw a marked policed cruiser and went out the back, he said. Williams was taken into custody there, but the others fled in a vehicle, he said.

Williams pleaded guilty to robbery charges involving both stores and a count of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with the Kranich’s robbery. He remains detained pending sentencing.