RIVERSIDE, California – A Riverside County man with a three-decade history of crimes was sentenced this afternoon to 110 months in federal prison for a month-long robbery spree of pharmacies in the Inland Empire while wearing medical masks.
David Anthony Battle, 50, of Moreno Valley, was sentenced by United States District Judge Jesus G. Bernal after pleading guilty on March 25 to six felony counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act robbery).
“In this case, [Battle] exploited a public health crisis by robbing essential businesses while concealing his face behind a medical mask,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.
According to court documents, from July 6 through August 10, 2020, Battle robbed six pharmacies – Walgreens, CVS, and Rite Aid outlets – in Moreno Valley, Colton and San Bernardino. He also attempted to rob two other Moreno Valley pharmacies.
During each incident, Battle wore similar clothing – including medical masks covering his nose and mouth – and brandished what appeared to be a handgun, Battle admitted in court. He then demanded that money from the cash register be placed in a bag and handed over.
When he was arrested during an attempted robbery of a Moreno Valley Walgreens, Battle was carrying a black BB gun with labeled with “Glock” logos on the barrel and the grip, court documents state.
Battle netted $5,453 in illicit gains from the robberies, more than half of which came from a July 6 robbery of a Walgreens store in Moreno Valley.
Since 1989, Battle has sustained 46 felony convictions and has been sentenced to a total of 66 years of incarceration, “and his history shows that he has been incapable of rehabilitation,” according to the sentencing memo. Prosecutors noted that Battle previously has been found guilty of violent crimes, including a 1994 conviction for false imprisonment by violence while impersonating an officer – one of seven convictions where his conduct involved impersonating a police officer or fire official.
“Although he gained thousands of dollars through his robberies, the traumatic impact of [Battle]’s crimes is much more consequential than his selfish monetary gains,” according to the sentencing memo. “Indeed, though it is impossible to quantify the true psychological and mental harms caused by [his] crimes – the medical expenses for just two of the victims has already reached $29,000. That amount reflects a fraction of the harm the victims have suffered.”
The FBI, the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department, the San Bernardino Police Department, and the Colton Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Peter H. Dahlquist of the Riverside Branch Office prosecuted this case.