Judge sentences 2 men in Middletown pharmacy robbery

Posted at 2:11 PM, Jan 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-01-11 14:11:58-05

DAYTON, Ohio -- A judge sentenced two men Thursday for conspiring to rob a Middletown pharmacy in what authorities said was one in a string of similar crimes targeting pharmacies. 

U.S. District Judge Walter Rice sentenced Eric Lamont Bates, 20, to eight years in prison and Yasar Jamal Burnett, 18, to six years in prison. Both men had pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the robbery and possessing morphine and oxycodone with intent to distribute.

Authorities previously said two men jumped over the counter, struck a pharmacist in the back and yelled, "Open the safe. Where is the safe?" 

"This offense was an attempt by Bates and Burnett to make quick money," U.S. Attorney Glassman said in a news release. "The defendants were in and out of the Rite Aid Pharmacy in less than five minutes. During the course of those few minutes, though, they used physical force and fear to ensure compliance from their victims, manhandling three female employees of the store to obtain narcotics that they could sell on the street. I hope the sentences they received today serve as a warning to others that the quick cash isn't worth it. Offenders will be caught. They will be prosecuted. And they will be punished." 

Bates and Burnett are just two of 11 people authorities have charged in three federal robbery indictments in Dayton. The robberies occurred between March and June 2017 in Middletown, Fairfield, Hamilton, Westerville, Trotwood, Dayton, Oakwood, Kettering, Beavercreek, Moraine, Vandalia, Union Township and Cincinnati. 

The thieves would go to the pharmacy counter at a CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid or Best Pharmacy store as if to get a prescription filled, authorities with the Department of Justice said in a news release. But instead of a prescription, the slip of paper would state it was an armed robbery and the pharmacist would be harmed if they didn't go along with it. The notes demanded two bags filled with a list of drugs identified by name, amount and dosage.