DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Western District of North Carolina

For Immediate Release

Friday, February 12, 2016
Jill Westmoreland Rose
, United States Attorney
Contact: Lia Bantavani

Asheville, N.C. Man Sentenced to More Than 13 Years in Prison for Armed Robbery of Fast Food Restaurant

ASHEVILLE, N.C. – On Thursday, February 11, 2016, U.S. District Judge Martin Reidinger sentenced Gordie Leroy Penson, 38, of Asheville, to 161 months in prison for the August 2014 armed robbery of a fast food restaurant, announced Jill Westmoreland Rose, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.  Judge Reidinger also sentenced Penson to five years of supervised release. 

U.S. Attorney Rose is joined in making today’s announcement by C.J. Hyman, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division, and Chief Tammy Hooper of the Asheville Police Department.

According to filed court documents, evidence presented at Penson’s trial and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, on August 2, 2014, Penson robbed at gunpoint a Bojangle’s restaurant located on Merrimon Avenue in Asheville.  Court records show that Penson entered the restaurant at approximately 9:55 in the evening and proceeded to demand money, first from the drive-thru cashier, threatening to shoot her if she did not open the cash drawer. According to court records, Penson then escorted the manager to the store safe and fired his gun once when the manager was unable to open the safe on the first attempt. According to court records, Penson fled the restaurant with $1,019 in cash. 

A federal jury convicted Penson of one count of Hobbs Act Robbery, one count of unlawful use and carry of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.  According to trial evidence and yesterday’s sentencing hearing, Penson has prior convictions in North Carolina for robbery with a dangerous weapon. 

Penson has been in federal custody since April 2015.  He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.  All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.   

The investigation was handled by ATF and the Asheville Police Department.  The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney John Pritchard of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Asheville.   

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Field Division: Charlotte Field Division