WILMINGTON — A judge sentenced a Wilmington man to 97 months in prison after holding up the Carrabba’s Grill in Wilmington two years ago and forcing employees into a closet.
Cornelius Riley, 62, pleaded guilty last summer and was charged with interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm in the furtherance of a crime of violence.
Witness interviews corroborated that Riley arrived at Carrabba’s Nov. 20, 2020 after closing time. Upon encountering an employee exiting the restaurant after the shift was over, forced his way in.
He made employees open the safe and empty cash drawers, before demanding security footage. A release from the Department of Justice noted the CD wouldn’t eject, so “he unhooked the recorder and threw it on the ground.” Thereafter, he secured the employees in a closet and instructed them to wait.
The Wilmington Police Department responded to an armed-robbery-in-progress call; as they arrived at the scene, officers saw the defendant exiting the restaurant with multiple items. When Riley spotted the police, he went back inside. It led to a short standoff before Riley exited and was arrested.
Officers conducted a search on Riley and found $490 from the restaurant. Inside the eatery, they “located a 0.22 caliber pistol in a trashcan, a pair of vinyl gloves, a closed zipper bank bag containing $1,900 in US Currency and assorted restaurant receipts and saw that multiple cash registers were disturbed, and the video recording system was on the floor.”
The defendant admitted to officers he was armed and tried to rob the restaurant, a press release noted.
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