Market Place robber pleads

One of the three Oak Harbor men police allege were involved in the Nov. 16 robbery of Market Place Food & Drug was recently sent to prison.

Patrick Facchini, 26, pleaded guilty by way of an Alford’s plea to second degree robbery. His plea was made Feb. 7 in Island County Superior Court. An Alford’s plea means that Facchini doesn’t admit his guilt, but concedes prosecutors have enough evidence to convict him at trial.

Judge Vickie Churchill went along with the prosecutor’s recommended sentence of a year and a half in prison and a $1,127 fine. In addition, Facchini and his two co-defendants — 20-year-old Alexander Cook and 32-year-old Darrel Willis — if convicted, will need to pay a total of $6,700 in restitution to the grocery store.

According to Island County Prosecutor Greg Banks, police originally thought Facchini did the actual robbery, but later discovered he was only the lookout. Investigators believe Cook went to an office at the grocery store in the early morning and stole cash from the bookkeeper, who he allegedly threatened to kill.

Cook was charged with burglary in the second, harassment, first-degree robbery, residential burglary and possession of stolen property in the first degree.

Investigators believe that Willis was sort of the mastermind behind the robbery. He’s also been charged in connection with the robbery. One of his trials was set to start this week, but his attorney got a last-minute continuance despite a strong objection from Banks.

Willis, who tried to represent himself, claims he had nothing to do with the robbery.

According to Banks, he plans to ask the judge to consolidate all the cases against Willis into a single trial, in order “to save prosecutorial and judicial resources.”

The robbery itself wasn’t exactly a professional job. Facchini’s task, according to Banks, was to open the fire escape so that he and Cook could escape out the back. Facchini failed miserably at his task, Banks said, so the robbers had to walk out the front door.

The robbers drove off in a stolen, purple PT Cruiser and somehow they managed to escape in the conspicuous vehicle.

But within a week, detectives were able to round up the robbers and uncovered a related group of people who were involved in local burglaries and stolen property.

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