Gun owner pleads guilty in robbery case

A Belpre man who loaned a neighbor a gun so he could rob a local restaurant pleaded guilty Tuesday to complicity to commit robbery.

Austin Stacy, 29, of 810 Morgan Ave., pleaded to the third-degree felony charge and in turn a first-degree felony count of complicity to commit aggravated robbery was dropped, said Washington County Assistant Prosecutor Kevin Rings. Stacy’s case was handled by Washington County Common Pleas Court Judge Ran dall Burnworth.

Rings explained, “He supplied the pellet gun to Jason Stewart who then pointed the gun at people inside Subway.”

Stewart, 21, of 809 Morgan Ave., Belpre, entered the Subway restaurant in Belpre wearing a mask on Nov. 11 and used the gun while demanding money. He got away with a little more than $500 in cash, all of which was recovered within hours of the robbery, said Rings.

Stewart was tracked by a bloodhound, which found the gun, a backpack full of clothes and the emptied cash box near the railroad tracks on Rockland Avenue in Belpre.

“(Stacy) also assisted with the attempted getaway by stashing clothes somewhere so Stewart could change out of the clothes he committed the robbery in and look like someone else,” said Rings.

According to an agreed disposition, Stacy will spend two years in prison on the charge-one year shy of the maximum penalty for a third-degree felony.

Stewart pleaded guilty in Common Pleas Court Feb. 11 to a third-degree felony count of robbery and in turn had his first-degree felony count of aggravated robbery dismissed.

The state decided not to go after the aggravated charge because the gun was later found to be malfunctioning and therefore would not likely be considered a deadly weapon-a necessary component for the aggravated charges, said Rings.

The state plans to recommend a three-year prison sentence for Stewart, the maximum penalty for a third-degree felony.

“We’re recommending slightly less for the complicitor because he didn’t go into the store and point the gun at people,” explained Rings.