WATERLOO — The attorney for Francis “Frank” Morley III said his client’s longtime drug addiction was behind last summer’s robbery at the Seneca Falls McDonald’s.
“Frank’s substance abuse issues were at the heart of the matter,” Seneca County Assistant Public Defender John Nabinger said during Morley’s sentencing Monday in county court. “He has struggled with addiction for some time.”
Moments later, Judge Dennis Bender sentenced Morley to four years in prison for the robbery at the Mound Road restaurant last Aug. 21. Morley, 28, of Seneca Falls, had previously pleaded guilty to second-degree robbery, a class C felony.
The sentencing also covers a class B felony, third-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell, stemming from an unrelated drug arrest last year. Morley was charged with that following an investigation by the county sheriff’s office narcotics unit into heroin sales in Seneca Falls.
Morley and a Waterloo man, Alexander Marsh, were arrested by Seneca Falls police following a three-month investigation into the McDonald’s robbery. Morley admitted displaying what appeared to be a handgun and threatening a female employee with it; he ran away after the worker handed over cash and he forcefully took money from the register.
Seneca Falls police searched the area for several hours afterward but couldn’t find the suspect. Police later learned Morley got into a car driven by Marsh and left the scene.
Marsh, 23, pleaded guilty last week to second-degree attempted robbery, a class D felony. He is scheduled to be sentenced June 30 by Bender to a maximum sentence of two years in prison, but Bender indicated he will consider less time in prison or a local jail sentence.
Police later learned the gun Morley used wasn’t real. Police believe Morley and Marsh took part in the robbery for money to buy drugs. Marsh also admitted having a drug addiction issue.
In court Monday, Morley didn’t speak about the robbery but agreed he has a drug problem. Bender said he would recommend to the state Department of Corrections that Morley get treatment in prison for his addiction.
“Mr. Morley, if they offer you treatment you should take it,” Bender said. “Clearly, you do have a drug problem.”