HOLLIDAYSBURG - An East Freedom man this week told Blair County President Judge Jolene G. Kopriva he had been free of his drug habit for six years, but last year he relapsed because of "family problems."
When he relapsed, Shawn Michael Beck, 30, of 521 Foor Lane, East Freedom, went on a crime spree that included robberies at two Altoona stores, distribution of cocaine, an attempted robbery at Citizen's Bank on Broad Avenue, issuance of four forged checks and several thefts.
Kopriva on Monday sent Beck to the State Correctional Institution at Camp Hill for nine to 18 years.
The robbery spree also left one victim so traumatized that she could not come to court for Beck's guilty pleas, according to District Attorney Richard A. Consiglio.
When a guilty plea is presented, the judge asks the defendant if he has anything he wants to say.
Beck didn't have anything he wanted to say prior to sentencing, but Kopriva asked him if he was under the influence of drugs during the spree, and he said he was.
He told Kopriva that he had been "clean" or free of his habit for six years but relapsed in December 2012. He didn't explain the details of his relapse.
But he began to steal checks from people he knew, including family members.
He made one check out to Fiore Volkswagon for $38,220 when he bought a Passat.
He was then accused of filling up the vehicle's gas tank and driving away without paying on many occassions.
According to court papers, that occurred several times at Martins General Store in Williamsburg, where he accumulated a bill of nearly $194.
He was also accused of stealing $200 from the living room of a close family member.
As time went along, Beck upped the seriousness of his criminal activity.
On Sept. 9, 2013, he entered Citizens Bank on Broad Avenue and filled out what appeared to be a deposit slip. He handed it to a teller and told her to "flip it over."
The message on the other side said, "Give me all your money or I will shoot you."
The teller began shaking, and Beck left the bank and got away with an accomplice.
A few minutes later there was a robbery at the Family Dollar Store on 200 E. Pleasant Valley Blvd. Beck is charged with demanding money from the clerk and got away with $81.91. Police soon caught up to Beck and his alleged accomplice, Tyler A. Latteri, 22.
Court records show that Lattieri eventually entered a pleas to conspiracy to commit theft and was sentenced to two years of probation.
Meanwhile, Beck was also linked to another robbery that occurred the day before at the Dollar General store at 311 S. Lloyd St.
Charges stated that Beck entered the store, retrieved a Monster energy drink from a cooler and when taking it to the clerk, he said he wanted all the money. He pulled up his sweatshirt, displaying a silver, semi-automatic handgun. He obtained $132 in that robbery.
Beck was charged with distributing cocaine from a July 5 buy involving the West Drug Task Force.
He will receive credit for the seven-and-a-half months he has already spent in prison.