BETHEL, PA — (11-26-18) — A Bethel Township man who prosecutors say was the getaway driver in the adult store robbery in September 2017, admitted to his crime last Wednesday during his sentencing hearing.

Standing before Judge M. Theresa Johnson, defendant Fred L. Baumgardner Jr. admitted that he knew co-defendants Cody L. Koller and Samantha Y. Huntington were planning to rob the Midway Gift & Novelty adult store but said he didn’t know they were going to assault the employee of the Midway Gift & Novelty adult store located at 341 Midway Rd. “If I would have known that, I wouldn’t have taken them there,” said Fred L. Baumgardner.

Baumgardner, 52, pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit robbery. Fred L. Baumgardner also pleaded guilty to flight in a separate case for running from police back on August 30 when they tried to arrest him on a bench warrant in another robbery case he is facing.

Judge M. Theresa Johnson sentenced Fred L. Baumgardner to 15 months to four years in state prison followed by one year of probation. Baumgardner will receive credit for 78 days that he has already served. He was also ordered to pay $8,000 in restitution along with co-defendants Cody L. Koller and Samantha Y. Huntington.

Defense attorney Catherine J. Nadirov of Kline & Nadirov, said Baumgardner was certainly not the main suspect in the case, but he acknowledges his part in this crime.

“He’s said many times that he was duped by these two individuals,” said Nadirov to Judge Johnson. “He got into a bad situation with them, your honor, but he didn’t stop it when he could have.” said Nadirov.

Koller and Huntington, also of Bethel Township, entered guilty pleas back in April. Koller, 26, was sentenced to 3 1/2 to eight years in state prison for robbery and conspiracy. Huntington, 21, was sentenced to 11 1/2 to 23 months in Berks County Prison followed by one year of probation for conspiracy to commit robbery.

At the time, Baumgardner was expected to do the same at his next hearing. However Baumgardner changed his mind and instead requested to go to trial. That’s when he took the opportunity to skip bail and never showed up to his hearing back on August 2. That is when Judge Johnson issued a bench warrant for his arrest.

According to prosecutors:

“State police responded to the Midway Gift & Novelty adult store around 3:30 a.m. back on Sept. 12, 2017, for a report of an assault. A clerk told troopers an unknown man had struck him several times on the head with a metal object.

The clerk said a man and woman entered the store a few minutes before the assault. He said the man attacked him, pushed him into the restroom, took items from the store and fled. It was unclear what items were stolen.

On Sept. 18, another employee at the store identified Huntington as the female suspect from surveillance camera footage. Four days later, police received information identifying Koller as the male suspect and Baumgardner as the getaway driver.

Baumgardner cooperated with investigators and told them Koller and Huntington were at his house Sept. 12, 2017, and asked for a ride to Route 419 in Bethel. He said Huntington said she wanted to break into a house to get her belongings.

Baumgardner drove them to Route 419, about a mile from the adult gift shop, and parked in a lot. Huntington and Koller left, and after about 45 minutes, ran back to the truck, got in and told him to drive away.

Koller told Baumgardner that they had robbed the shop and hit the man behind the counter several times, saying there was blood everywhere. He said Koller told him he previously worked at the shop and knew there was always $1,500 in the safe at night.”

Article by: Andy Powell, Staff Writer

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