Robbery getaway driver sentenced | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Robbery getaway driver sentenced

William Ferchland

William Weldy, who drove the getaway car in one of his former roommate’s convenience store robberies, was sentenced to a year in county jail despite his attorney and boss wanting weekend confinement.

Weldy showed little emotion when he was handcuffed by an El Dorado County Superior Court bailiff after the sentence by Judge Jerald Lasarow.

“You knew darn well what he was doing and had every opportunity to get away,” Lasarow said.

Two years in prison was suspended in lieu of four years probation. Weldy, who was 21 when he was arrested in February, was also ordered to pay $800 in restitution and an abundance of fees. He pleaded guilty to robbery two months ago.

Defense attorney Paul Palant highlighted letters submitted on behalf of his client and how often his client works.

“It was completely out of character,” Palant said. The attorney also concentrated on Weldy’s involvement in the robbery that Palant said was unplanned.

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“It’s not as if this is something they discussed,” Palant said.

In July, Lasarow sentenced Dylan Burdick – whom Weldy met working at Safeway eventually becoming friends and roommates – to 10 years in prison for nine robberies although Burdick admitted to more. Convenience stores and pedestrians were targeted by Burdick, 20, who donned a mask and used a BB gun that looked like a real handgun, from November 2004 to February of this year.

Authorities believe the stolen money was used to buy drugs.

Weldy drove the getaway car during a robbery at the 7-Eleven store on Emerald Bay Road. At first a passenger in Burdick’s car, he was persuaded to hop into the driver’s seat and instructed to wait in the car as Burdick entered the store.

Lasarow chastised Weldy on the crime, saying he was thankful no one was injured or killed and appeared amazed the two used the stolen money to buy beer shortly afterward at a different convenience store.

“This is probably one of the dumbest things you’ve done in your life and now you have a felony and a strike,” Lasarow said.

Safeway manager Tom Nobriga, the only person in the audience to speak on Weldy’s behalf, described his employee as a “good kid in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

Prosecutor Peter O’Hara said it would be a “surprise” if Weldy didn’t know what Burdick was up to. During that four-month span, 13 robberies involving at least 15 victims and four stores occurred. “This is a violent crime,” O’Hara said. “People could have been killed.”

The robberies came on the heels of similar crimes committed by teenagers at South Tahoe High School who also used a replica BB gun to scare convenience store cashiers to give them money, which was used for drugs.