A North Georgia man has been sentenced to more than 12 years in prison after he was convicted on charges related to a "carefully planned and increasingly violent" series of armed robberies, officials said.
Anthony Lavell Williams Jr., 28, of Rome, pleaded guilty in August to five counts of interference with commerce by robbery and armed robbery involving controlled substances, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Kurt R. Erskine said in a news release Wednesday.
Williams' charges stemmed from five armed robberies of pharmacies between May and July 2020, Erskine said. In total, he stole nearly $10,000 in cash and more than $180,000 of controlled substances, though the street value of the pills was much higher, Erskine said.
Through the five robberies, Williams was able to steal nearly 44,000 doses of opioid medication and more than 5,700 tablets containing amphetamine, which is often used as ADHD medication.
The string of robberies included pharmacies in Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cobb and Hall counties, Erskine said. Williams would often assault employees and customers unlucky enough to be inside the stores he chose to rob, according to the release.
In most cases, Williams would pull a gun in the store and force the other occupants of the pharmacy to surrender their cellphones and lie on the floor or go into another room, Erskine said. Then he would get a manager or other employee to open the cash register and, in some cases, the safe where dangerous prescription drugs were kept.
During the final robbery prosecuted in Williams' case, he assaulted a customer at a Gainesville pharmacy in July 2020. Williams grabbed a woman who was at the front register by the hair and forced her and a cashier to go to the back of the store. Once there, he demanded they fill a backpack with cash and painkillers before escaping.
Williams was ultimately tracked down when Carrollton police used license-plate-reading cameras to link his car to the armed robbery of a Walgreens there, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported. Though he pleaded guilty to five armed robberies, police originally linked him to more than 20 across North Georgia.
"Driven by greed, Anthony Williams terrorized our community and sought to profit off of the opioid epidemic," Erskine said.
According to the Acting U.S. Attorney's office, Williams' full sentence includes 12 years and seven months in prison followed by five years of supervised release. Williams was also ordered by the court to pay restitution of more than $192,000.
Read more at AJC.com.