The Herald, Sharon, Pa.

Local News

September 6, 2013

Area man can't shed pharmacy robbery

---- — Joseph P. VanMeter’s wakeup call came about three years ago when his daughter was born.

He went through drug and alcohol rehabilitation and got off the cycle of taking drugs and scrapping for money to pay for more drugs.

“I became really serious about trying to turn my life around,” the 26-year-old Hartstown resident said.

The little matter of the armed robbery of a Sharon pharmacy in 2008, for which he had not been charged at the time, “I thought this was behind me,” VanMeter testified at his sentence hearing Thursday.

“I thought this was something that was going to be in my past and go away,” he said. “Things have a way of coming back around.”

Things came back around in January 2012 when a friend of Aaron M. Bradley came forward and told police that Bradley and VanMeter had robbed the Medicine Shoppe, 1020 E. State St., on Oct. 29, 2008.

The friend turned on Bradley, 27, formerly of Hermitage, because Bradley was having an affair with the friend’s girlfriend.

Bradley, who maintained his innocence, went to trial and was convicted by a jury March 21 of robbery, theft, possession of various controlled substances with intent to deliver and conspiracy to commit robbery and unlawful restraint.

Mercer County Common Pleas Court Judge Robert G. Yeatts sentenced Bradley in June to 8 years, 4 months to 21 years in prison. He has appealed his conviction.

Later in the month, Van Meter, formerly of Hermitage, pleaded guilty to robbery and possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver. Yeatts sentenced VanMeter to 5 to 10 years in prison - the mandatory minimum sentence - followed by 5 years’ probation.

Bradley and VanMeter called in a bomb threat to West Hill Elementary, diverting Sharon’s safety forces to that side of town, then hit the Medicine Shoppe, sticking up two women with a gun Van Meter carried and stealing OxyContin, Methadone, Percocet, Morphine and Cadmium.

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