An armed man who robbed five dollar stores in four Coast cities in 2014 has been sentenced to prison and ordered to repay the stores while he’s behind bars.
Joseph Towner Jr., 32, received a 32-year prison term Wednesday in U.S. District Court for holdups at Dollar General and Family Dollar stores in Biloxi, D’Iberville, Gulfport and Long Beach in 2014. The prison sentence also includes time for using a gun in crimes of violence.
In a guilty plea in March, Towner admitted he robbed the stores over a period of three months.
He owes nearly $34,000 in restitution and fines.
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Judge Sul Ozerden on Wednesday ordered Towner to pay $13,926.13 to the stores and then pay a $20,000 fine, Assistant U.S. Attorney Harold H. Brittain said in a news release.
Ozerden ordered Tanner to serve the prison term consecutively to an eight-year prison term on a state drug conviction in Harrison County.
The armed robberies became high-profile crimes as details began to emerge.
For instance, after the holdup of a Family Dollar on West Railroad in Gulfport, two workers reported they were leaving when two armed men wearing MorphSuit-style masks forced them inside and demanded they open the safe.
And in D’Iberville, police were responding to a silent alarm at the Dollar General on Lemoyne Boulevard when Towner and another person ran out. Police said the two had guns and had ordered an employee to get on the floor and another to open the safe.
The robberies occurred between Aug. 30, 2014, and Nov. 28, 2014.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives investigated the robberies.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Annette Williams prosecuted the case.