The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

February 28, 2014

Lookout for pizza shop robbery gets jail time

By Joe Wiercinski
Herald Staff Writer

SHARPSVILLE — The man police say was the lookout for a violent Sharpsville pizza shop robbery last year was sentenced Thursday after a plea bargain with prosecutors.

Richard Eugene Crawford, 29, of 815 W. Ridge Ave., Sharpsville, was sentenced to 1 to 18 months in jail by Mercer County Common Pleas Court President Judge Thomas R. Dobson.

Dobson gave him credit for 32 days’ served and paroled him for the balance of the 18 months. He will be on probation for 6 months and must pay court costs and $380 restitution.

Crawford pleaded guilty Dec. 17 to theft, a first-degree misdemeanor punishable by up to 2è to 5 years in prison. Prosecutors withdrew charges of robbery and conspiracy.

Police said Crawford kept an eye on the door during the robbery last March 24 when William D. “Scooter” Koehler hit Hometown Pizza owner Jeff Miller over the head with a sharp object, fought him, threatened him with a knife and stole $300 to $400.

Speaking before Crawford was sentenced, Miller said his life was turned upside down by the robbery.

“I’ve sold the business I worked to build up for 21 years,” he said. “You work so hard and you try to be a solid citizen and you have someone come in and try to take it away from you. It takes away your peace of mind.”

Crawford blamed himself for allowing Koehler to live with him after his grandmother had thrown him out.

The two hadn’t seen each other since high school and they began using drugs together which led them to carry out the robbery, Crawford said.

Koehler, 33, of 408 W. State St., Sharon, pleaded guilty in September to robbery.

He is being evaluated by the state Department of Corrections to determine his eligibility for the state Intermediate Punishment Program, two years of incarceration, treatment and counseling for low-level offenders with drug and alcohol problems.