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Relapsed Addict Who Robbed Store Sentenced to 6 to 15 Years

September 13, 2016

Contact: Kathleen Byrne, 215.348.6366, kgbyrne@buckscounty.org

 A Philadelphia man with a long history of substance abuse, mental illness and criminal offenses was sentenced Monday to serve six to 15 years in state prison for robbing a GNC store in Bensalem.

Francis Algarin, 51, pleaded guilty June 27 to brandishing a handgun in the store at 1879 Street Road, demanding money from the cashier, and escaping on foot with $360.94. Algarin told police that he used a BB gun in the Oct. 22, 2015, robbery.

Bensalem police detectives were able to identify and arrest Algarin through security video and a debit card he had tried to use at a nearby business on the night of the robbery.

Algarin also has pleaded guilty to three additional robberies in Montgomery County, for which he is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25. His criminal record includes 12 convictions dating to the early 1990s, mostly for drug offenses and property crimes, and he already has served time in state prison.

“It looks like you haven’t learned your lesson,” said Bucks County Common Pleas Court Judge Gary B. Gilman.

Algarin said that he has been addicted to heroin for more than 20 years and has struggled with alcoholism since childhood. He said he had been sober for 10 years before relapsing last year and committing the robberies to feed his drug habit.

“I’m nauseated at my behavior,” he said. “I can’t even read my own police report (because) I can’t believe that was me.”

Algarin has been diagnosed with severe depression and schizoaffective disorder. He told the judge that after being released from prison several years ago, he returned to college in hopes of becoming a drug counselor.

He accumulated 43 credits and a 4.0 grade point average, he said, before relapsing due to depression and the pressures of caring for his alcoholic mother and his severely mentally ill son.

“I sort of fell flat on my face,” he told Gilman. “I fell apart.”

Defense attorney Nathan Criste called Algarin an “atypical” defendant. “We don’t find many robbers with 43 credits at Montgomery County Community College,” he said, urging Gilman to give Algarin a mitigated-range sentence.

Assistant District Attorney Kathleen Byrne argued that Algarin “has had every benefit of the criminal justice system at his disposal,” including drug rehabilitation and mental health treatment, but has continued to commit crimes.

“I don’t feel like there’s any way to protect the community without a lengthy state prison sentence,” Byrne said. “His decision was to go and use a firearm in order to feed his addiction.”

Gilman told Algarin that “you are more than what your rap sheet is. When you’re not doing drugs, it sounds like you are a pretty good citizen.

“I don’t give up easily on people, and I’m not giving up on you,” the judge said in pronouncing his sentence. “But I need to protect the community.”

Approved for release by Robert James, Deputy District Attorney.

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Office of the District Attorney
Bucks County Justice Center
100 N. Main Street
Doylestown, PA 18901 
Phone: 215-348-6344 
Fax: 215-348-6299

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