The perpetrators of a 2018 robbery of a San Francisco Walgreens that left staff “traumatized” were sentenced in U.S. District Court this afternoon. Jazz Svarda was imprisoned for 37 months while co-defendant Eric Hill received 30 months.
The pair struck the Walgreens at 901 Hyde Street just after 4pm on November 21, 2018. Masked and hooded, they leapt behind the pharmacy counter and forced employees to give them more than 1,000 oxycodone pills plus other pharmaceuticals including 300 methamphetamine hydrochloride and 130 tapentadol tablets.
”I have a gun, don’t make me use it.”Jazz svarda
At the outset of the raid Svarda announced that he had a firearm. Staff members were then “grabbed” and “dragged” toward the pharmacy’s safes before being forced to remove drugs. One employee was forcibly pulled while desperately clutching on to a pharmacy shelf. Another, trying to escape through a side door, had the buttons torn from her uniform while being dragged back into the store.
Prosecutors say that “[a]ll employees experienced fear during the robbery and, to this day, years later, report that they remain traumatized.” The pharmacist on duty at the time of the robbery changed jobs, while another “distraught” employee moved out of San Francisco entirely. The Walgreens location subsequently closed.
The Government had requested a 46 month sentence for Svarda and a 37 month sentence for Hill.
George Boisseau, representing Svarda, told the court this afternoon that his client was “extremely remorseful for his conduct in this case.”
“The fact is that Mr Svarda really changed his life,” Boisseau added. “He was homeless, he was addicted to drugs, he stole drugs for purposes of sale, and also to support his own habit. He came to this state looking for a new life, and it turns out he went back to his old life.”
“I stand before you today to take full responsibility for my actions,” Svarda told the judge. “I acknowledge the impact of my actions […] there were people who I took a sense of peace from [and] their sense of security.”
Hill’s attorney requested that the court sentence him to probation with home detention, citing his steady employment, pre-trial release compliance, and the “relatively minor” nature of his previous misdemeanor convictions in support.
“I want to take responsibility for my actions,” said Eric Hill. “I have read the impact statements of the victims and it really touched me. I wish they could forgive me.”
“A frightening and upsetting incident.”U.S. District judge James donato
“This was a crime committed in public,” said Judge Donato. “It subjected a group of innocent customers and Walgreens employees to a frightening and upsetting violent incident.”
“It has to be addressed with an appropriate sentence.”
He imprisoned Svarda for 37 months and Hill for 30 months.
Both Svarda and Hill had been free on ‘pre-trial release’ for all but a few weeks since the federal complaint was filed in June 2020.
Svarda “had repeatedly failed to abide by basic release conditions” during this period according to prosecutors.
After their eve-of-trial guilty pleas in January this year, MMA-fighter Svarda was ordered to surrender himself to federal authorities, while Hill was permitted to stay free. Hill will be allowed to report voluntarily to prison and must to so on or before 2:00pm on June 5, 2023.
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