News and Press Releases


March 18, 2005

TOMMY OWEN HARTZ, 60, of Carnation, Washington was sentenced to 22 years in prison today for the July 21, 2000 armed robbery of Gem Design, a Bellevue Jewelry store. HARTZ was convicted by a jury in U.S. District Court in Seattle on May 21, 2004 of Armed Robbery and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm. Federal prosecutors asked U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly for the lengthy sentence noting HARTZ extensive criminal history and his recent attempts to break out of federal custody.

According to court documents and testimony at trial, HARTZ and another man came into the jewelry store at about 10:00 AM and ordered the lone employee of the store onto the ground at gunpoint. The employee was then handcuffed to a steam fixture in a back room of the store. The owner of the business next door to the jewelry store heard strange noises coming from the back room and called police when she discovered the employee locked to the steam fixture. HARTZ was arrested four days later during a traffic stop in Pierce County. Officers found a list of jewelry in his pocket. Some of the stolen jewelry was later discovered at HARTZ' home and the home of a couple who knew HARTZ.

At sentencing prosecutors provided a list of HARTZ prior convictions including: two robbery convictions in Pierce County in 1971; two Robbery While Armed with a Deadly Weapon convictions in King County in 1981; and one Assault While Armed with a Deadly Weapon and a Firearm, also from 1981. The government also provided evidence that HARTZ had been planning an escape from the Federal Detention Center at SeaTac or the courthouse. Prosecutors submitted letters to HARTZ' associate detailing plans to hide a weapon in the courtroom. Recently a search of HARTZ' prison cell turned up items he had been stockpiling for an escape attempt.

The case was investigated by the Bellevue Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant United States Attorney Susan M. Roe prosecuted the case.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Washington at (206)553-4110.

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