Riverside, California - A Riverside County man pleaded guilty Thursday to federal criminal charges that he engaged in a month-long robbery spree of pharmacies in the Inland Empire while wearing a medical mask over his face.
David Anthony Battle, 51, of Moreno Valley, pleaded guilty to six felony counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery).
According to his plea agreement, from July 6, 2020 to August 10, 2020, Battle robbed six pharmacies – Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid – in Moreno Valley, Colton, and San Bernardino, and attempted to rob two other Moreno Valley pharmacies.
During each incident, Battle wore similar clothing – including wearing medical masks covering his nose and mouth – and used a similar method of brandishing what appeared to be a handgun by pulling it out from his waistband and holding it at his side, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in this case. He then demanded that money in the cash register be placed in a bag and handed over, the plea agreement states.
Law enforcement reviewed store surveillance videos, which led them to arrest Battle, court documents state. During Battle’s arrest, a black BB-gun-style pistol was found on the ground near him, the affidavit states.
Battle netted $5,453 in illicit gains from the robberies, though $3,200 of that came from the July 6 robbery of a Walgreens store in Moreno Valley, according to the plea agreement.
United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal has scheduled a June 14 sentencing hearing, at which time Battle will face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each Hobbs Act robbery count.
The FBI, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the San Bernardino Police Department, and the Colton Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Peter H. Dahlquist of the Riverside Branch Office is prosecuting this case.