A man who robbed Missler's IGA in Willard could face up to 15 years in prison when he is sentenced June 4.
Michael J. Fette, 46, of Lancaster, pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count each of aggravated robbery and possession of criminal tools. The aggravated robbery comes with a firearm specification meaning he will have to serve three years in prison before serving any time on the first-degree felony.
"We had a really great case," said Huron County Prosecutor Russell Leffler, who complimented the work of Willard Police Officers Ryan Hall, Chris Kelbley and Brian Slone.
"They arrested him on the spot. He walked out of the grocery store with a bucket with $30,000 in it and the gun. That's as good of a case as you can get," Leffler said.
On Aug. 18, a tipster who was near Missler's IGA alerted police about the armed robbery. The man flagged down an officer after he saw a suspicious vehicle parked near a trash receptacle.
Co-owners Janet and John Missler arrived at the grocery store at closing time when Fette came out of the back room.
"Out walks this tall guy," Janet Missler told the Reflector earlier. "Once he put his arm straight out with a gun in his hand and told John and I to get into the office, we knew what was happening."
Missler's husband managed to leave, fled to the nearby Pin Oak Apartments and had somebody call 9-1-1.
"The gun was cocked. ... He (Fette) wasn't messing around. At first we were going to do what he was telling us to do. He told us to get in the back room," the victim said.
The woman suspects Fette's plans changed when she and her husband walked in on the robbery and after John fled the building. Missler said the defendant planned to use zip ties to restrain her and her two employees and he said after he left he would call police.
"He (Fette) went into the office and grabbed the money. Everything was happening so fast that night," Missler said. "Nobody got hurt, but we are all shook up."
When an officer arrived, he noticed a man walking toward a parked vehicle. Fette was arrested after a brief chase.
Police recovered $30,000 in cash, a .9 mm handgun, extra ammunition, zip ties and a hat Fette wore when he walked into the store. When the vehicle was recovered and searched, officers found more ammunition, two more bags of zip ties and the defendant's ID card.
As part of Tuesday's plea deal, the state agreed to dismiss two counts attempted kidnapping.
Leffler was asked what his recommendation might be for sentencing.
"We can ask for anything we want," he said. "The minimum is six years and the maximum is 15."
Fette had his bond revoked Tuesday, meaning he will remain in the Huron County Jail until his June 4 sentencing date. Leffler said the hearing was scheduled so Fette, who has a prior armed robbery conviction, possibly could address "five other robberies" that are pending in other counties.
"That doesn't mean we can't give him consecutive time," the prosecutor added.