Spring City man admits robbing Royersford pizza shop where he once worked

NORRISTOWN — A Spring City man who wore a hockey-style goalie mask and carried a hypodermic needle and a BB gun during a pre-Halloween robbery of a Royersford pizza shop is headed to state prison after admitting his guilt.

Christopher Robert Pecci, 23, of the 200 block of New Street, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court on Monday to 14 months to five years in a state correctional facility after he pleaded guilty to a felony robbery charge in connection with the Oct. 28, 2013, holdup of the Domino’s Pizza on Walnut Street in Royersford.

Judge Wendy Demchick-Alloy asked Pecci if he had a drug problem at the time of the robbery and Pecci answered, “heroin.” The judge subsequently recommended that Pecci be housed at the state prison in Chester, Delaware County, which offers rehabilitation programs for offenders with drug problems.

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Pecci, who was represented by defense lawyer David McKenzie III, once worked at the pizza shop and employees recognized him despite his wearing a mask, authorities said. In a criminal complaint, Royersford Police Officer Thomas Godin said employees recognized Pecci “from his voice and his gait.”

Prosecutors, who speculated Pecci’s robbery might have been fueled by drugs, sought state prison time against Pecci.

“I think, certainly, anytime you see a person with a heroin addiction who robs someplace and brandishes a needle, I think it’s logical to conclude that drugs drove him to do that,” said Assistant District Attorney Gabriel Magee.

Magee added that even though employees recognized Pecci as a former co-worker they were still frightened.

“Anytime somebody comes into your place of work brandishing a needle I think it’s natural to think that there’s a chance this person will stick you with the needle, and even if you know that person, it’s still scary,” Magee said. “Obviously, it’s a scary situation.”

Authorities alleged Pecci, wearing the mask and carrying the needle and the BB gun in his hands, entered the Domino’s at the intersection of Walnut Street and Lewis Road around 12:23 a.m. and announced the robbery.

“They thought that Pecci was joking initially, but when he became persistent they placed the money from the registers and the safe in the pizza box as requested by Pecci,” Godin alleged. “Pecci then ran out the back door of the store.”

Employees gave chase and tackled the robber and were able to remove the mask, identifying Pecci, and knock the money from his hands. Authorities previously alleged that about $767 had been taken.

Pecci allegedly pleaded with his former co-workers not to call the police and then fled from the area, according to the arrest affidavit. Police subsequently went to Pecci’s Spring City address and took him into custody there, according to the criminal complaint.

All the money taken from the Domino’s was recovered, according to police.

Authorities determined the gun Pecci was carrying was actually a BB gun, according to the criminal complaint and court papers.

Follow Carl Hessler Jr. on Twitter @MontcoCourtNews