CLEARFIELD – A DuBois man accused of three gun shop burglaries was given a lengthy state prison sentence in Clearfield County Court.
Brett Andrew Moore, 25, pleaded guilty to criminal conspiracy, burglary, theft by unlawful taking, possessing instruments of crime, criminal mischief and firearms not to be carried without a license in relation to the burglary of L.B. Toney’s Alamo Gun Shop in DuBois on Aug. 28, 2013 and two burglaries of Bob’s Army & Navy Store in Clearfield in September of 2013.
He was sentenced by Judge Fredric J. Ammerman to a total of 10 to 20 years in state prison.
In an additional case, he pleaded guilty to retail theft and defiant trespass. For this he was given a concurrent sentence of three months to two years in state prison. In another separate case, he pleaded guilty to unsworn falsification to authorities and false reports for which he was given a concurrent sentence of one to two years in state prison.
His probation on a previous retail theft was also revoked and he was given a four-month to two years concurrent state prison sentence.
He must also pay restitution of more than $7,800.
“This was a big case in Clearfield,” said District Attorney William A. Shaw Jr. He thanked all the local law enforcement agencies who worked on this case. He noted after sentencing that the victims were “very satisfied” with the sentence.
Prior to sentencing, Robert Grimminger Sr., owner of Bob’s Army & Navy Store addressed the court. He stated that he would like to find a place in his heart to forgive Moore, but when he looks at the expense Moore created for his store, he can’t forgive him.
The business, he said, had to add several security features to prevent future burglaries. He commented that he was a veteran of World War II and the 101st Airborne Division. This is the same division Moore also served in recently in Afghanistan.
Grimminger said it took 65 years to build his business and he was “not going to have someone come along and take this from us.” He asked Ammerman to give Moore the “maximum penalty the law allows.”
His son, also Robert Grimminger, stated that a lot of the store’s customers said they felt as “violated as we are” by the burglaries.
“They look at it as their store,” he said.
He explained they spent $30,000 for the additional security of the business. He also asked for Moore to receive the maximum sentence.
Shaw commented that there is a concern for community safety because the guns are on the black market and can be used for criminal purposes. Shaw noted that of the 23 guns stolen only three have been recovered.
Ammerman noted that he had received letters from the owners of both stores. Because the owner of L.B. Toney’s Alamo Gun Shop was unable to appear in court, Ammerman read his letter into the record.
It said that “this was not some petty theft” and mentioned that the guns were sold to other criminals, which can be used in other crimes to possibly hurt innocent victims. He said that Moore’s claim that he suffers from post traumatic stress disorder is “just an excuse” because his son also suffered from this and now is in law enforcement.
“This does not include sticking a needle in your arm and stealing guns to feed that habit,” the letter said. It ended with a request for the maximum sentence for Moore.
Moore’s attorney, Ronald Collins, stated Moore was a “pretty good kid” and then detailed Moore’s problems while in the service. He suffered a severe brain injury as a result of a bomb while stationed in Afghanistan. He was disabled because of this and he suffered severe pain.
Collins said Moore then became addicted to pain killers. His injuries had an impact on his judgment and cognitive processes. He said Moore had trouble getting a job and providing for his family. He claimed Moore suffers from PTSD and with counseling he could recover.
Ammerman also received several letters in support of Moore and many of these same people appeared in court to state their opinion on the crimes.
All of them explained that Moore was different after he returned from overseas.
Richard Chew read a letter written by his wife who is a mental health professional. She wrote that with PTSD people are very distrustful and reluctant to seek help. They live their life as if every situation is a “life or death” situation. She stated that his brain injury affected his decision making. She asked Ammerman to consider therapy for Moore.
Steve Shomo described Moore as a “kind, generous person” who became an expert marksman and a sniper. Moore was happy to serve his country but when he came home he was “not the same Brett.” He needed pills and alcohol to sleep at night because he was dreaming about things that happened to him in Afghanistan. Shomo stated he went through the same thing when he returned from duty but he got help. He said there are people “who know how to handle this” and asked Ammerman to allow Moore to get the help he needs.
Shaw noted that after Moore’s traumatic brain injury, he was put back on active duty. He referred to a hearing held to discuss the specifics of that injury and his claims of PTSD. A motion to suppress Moore’s confession on the grounds that he was not thinking clearly due to another injury to his head while in custody was denied by Ammerman after that hearing.
Moore also addressed the court. He apologized to the victims, the court, his family and law enforcement.
“This should never have happened,” he said, adding that he made a bad decision and he has to live with it.
Ammerman commented that this case was “an absolute disaster for everyone.”
The charges were filed after a joint investigation with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that established Moore and his wife as suspects after three different witness told authorities that both Brett and Nicole Moore had told them they had committed the crimes.
Nicole Elaine Moore, 24, is charged with criminal conspiracy/burglary, criminal conspiracy/criminal trespass, criminal conspiracy/theft by unlawful taking, criminal conspiracy/receiving stolen property, criminal conspiracy/criminal mischief and theft and receiving stolen property in connection to these crimes. Her cases are scheduled for jury selection in October.
Nicole Moore allegedly told police that she agreed to help Brett commit the burglaries to sell the guns for cash and drugs. She said she drove the vehicle in all three incidents.