A Sitka man could spend a year in prison for the robbery of a downtown bar this spring. The crime was committed with a bb-gun, and the net proceeds were about $7.
The Sitka Grand Jury last month indicted 20-year old John Horner-Raffaele on one count of Robbery in the First Degree, and one count of Assault in the Third Degree, for standing by while an accomplice entered Ernie’s Bar through the back door just before midnight on March 13, smashed the DJ’s tip jar, and fled with its contents.
According to the criminal complaint, Horner-Raffaele is alleged to have waited in the alley with a handgun, while his 17-year old accomplice, wearing a ski mask and hoodie, stole the cash.
Two bar patrons attempted to stop the robbery, but the 17-year old escaped and joined Horner-Raffaele. After a short foot chase up American Street, the patrons caught up to the pair and demanded the return of the money. Horner-Raffaele allegedly pulled the gun from his waistband and pointed it at the head of one of the patrons, who, fearing for their lives, gave up the chase.
Sitka Police quickly apprehended the 17-year old near the Baranof Elementary School playground. About an hour later, a search warrant was issued for his home on Flume Circle, where police recovered some torn bills in a backpack, and other evidence from the crime.
The bartender at Ernie’s confirmed that they often placed torn, unusable cash in the tip jar, as seed money.
Other occupants of the home said that Horner-Raffaele had come by shortly before the arrival of police, but then left.
Police issued an all-points bulletin for Horner-Raffaele on social media, and a call came in at 10:30 the following morning that he was in the vicinity of the library. Horner-Raffaele was apprehended and taken to the police station, where he admitted brandishing the gun – which was a bb-gun – and purchasing a mocha and a bag of chips with the stolen cash, which amounted to no more than $7 in usable money.
Horner-Raffaele was charged with Robbery in the First Degree and taken into custody and arraigned on $100,000 bail. In a plea deal with the state entered on April 25, that charge was reduced to Theft in the Second Degree. A charge of Assault in the Third Degree was reduced to Assault in the Fourth Degree.
The deal stipulates 1 year of prison time for the crime. A May 1 hearing on the agreement was postponed until the Public Defender could discuss the terms with the defendant.