YORK -- One of the two Gastonia, N.C., men accused of robbing a Clover McDonald's and forcing restaurant employees into a freezer last year was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison.
Tony Lamar Youngblood, 39, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and kidnapping at the Moss Justice Center. Prosecutors agreed to dismiss charges of criminal conspiracy, failure to stop for a blue light and three counts of kidnapping.
"Sure sends a message to those crossing the border to commit crimes," Sixteenth Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett said of the sentence. "We're taking an aggressive stance on this."
In the Sept. 3 robbery, police said Youngblood held a gun to the head of a McDonald's manager as she retrieved money from a safe. Meanwhile, police said, his cousin, William Lewis Sims, forced other McDonald's workers into a freezer at gunpoint.
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Prosecutors said Youngblood was familiar with the McDonald's layout because both he and Sims had worked for one of the company's restaurants in Gastonia.
The men loaded the money in a trash bag and left. No one was hurt in the robbery.
They eventually led police on a 15-mile chase into North Carolina before jumping from the car and running away. Police arrested Sims nearly 12 hours after the crime.
Youngblood remained at large until Clover police received an anonymous tip that he was staying at his sister's house. He was arrested there Sept. 13.
Youngblood's attorney claimed his client was desperate for money when he robbed the restaurant. He said the guns weren't loaded, and one was broken.
"I'd like to say I'm sorry, but sorry doesn't cut it," Youngblood said in court. "Unfortunately, I made a mistake."
He also asked one of the victims for forgiveness.
Sims is awaiting trial.