A 24-year-old Wauwatosa native pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to robbing a Walgreens pharmacist at gunpoint for prescription narcotics, according to court records.
Robert John Schweitzer initially had been charged with three pharmacy robberies, all while armed and all for narcotics, and had pleaded not guilty despite having admitted them all to police. In a plea negotiation, the state dismissed two counts but ordered them read in to the record.
As such, they may be considered by the judge at sentencing but are not recorded as convictions; neither can they compound Schweitzer's sentence beyond the maximum penalty for one count.
As it is, armed robbery is punishable by up to 40 years in the Department of Corrections – typically maximums of 20 years in prison and 20 under supervision.
With his plea, the court found Schweitzer guilty and ordered him to appear for sentencing at 1:30 p.m. June 6.
Driven by a powerful addiction
According to police reports and a criminal complaint, Schweitzer admitted to police after his arrest that he was severely addicted to opiate narcotics and that he robbed for drugs, never cash. He also said he never sold the drugs he stole but used them all himself, shooting up as often as every half-hour.
Schweitzer admitted robbing the CVS Pharmacy at 7520 Blue Mound Road on Feb. 18 and the CVS at 5929 W. Lisbon Ave. in Milwaukee on Feb. 20.
After Wauwatosa police released still photos from store security video of the Feb. 18 robbery, Schweitzer said he'd gotten "five or 10 calls" from friends telling him they'd recognized him as the robber.
Schweitzer told police he'd gone "Up North" with his girlfriend to wait for the heat to subside, but said he couldn't feed his addiction there. He ditched clothing he'd worn in his last two robberies, he said – an orange ski mask and a brown jacket – and returned, staying in a West Allis apartment.
Desperate and dangerous
On March 5, he decided to pull another job, this one at the Walgreens at 10800 W. Capitol Dr. in Wauwatosa.
According to police, Schweitzer walked into the Walgreens shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday wearing a ski mask and carrying a .380-caliber pistol, went to the pharmacy counter and demanded, "Give me all your Oxy's or Perc's. I'm not playing around. This is for real!"
The pharmacy technician understood him to mean prescription narcotics Oxycodone or Percocet and, later telling officers that her father is a gun aficionado, even correctly identified the caliber of the weapon Schweitzer had pointed at her.
She fumbled for a bag, but Schweitzer told her to skip it and hurry up, he had a bag ready.
The woman grabbed five bottles of pills from the narcotics safe, dropped one, and handed Schweitzer the rest. The moment after he turned around to go, she called a "Code 99," for a theft or robbery in progress.
There is sometimes a cop when you need one
A half dozen witnesses, clerks and customers, saw or heard Schweitzer pounding down the aisles on his way out and then slam into the doors at full speed. The automatic doors had already been deactivated, but after a brief scramble, Schweitzer managed to pry them open and make his escape.
He was jogging back to his Ford Explorer, still running in the alley with his girlfriend in the passenger seat, when the flashing lights of a Wauwatosa patrol car appeared right behind him.
A patrol officer had been idling in traffic at the stoplight at North Mayfair Road and Capitol Drive when the call came in. He had started across the intersection in pursuit before Schweitzer even got out the door.
Schweitzer ran, fell, got up and dropped or threw his weapon in the snow, and was halted just before he got to the Explorer.
Officers tracing Schweitzer's footprints recovered the gun, a .380 "Hellcat," from the snow.