ITHACA, N.Y. — About 10 months after a man robbed a 74-year-old smoke shop owner in downtown Ithaca, he was sentenced to time served — about 55 days in jail — by a Tompkins County judge.

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Alan Richards pleaded guilty to third-degree robbery on June 3, but his sentencing was delayed after attorney Seth Peacock argued that Richards’ crime coincided with his recently acquired addiction to opioids.

Richards confessed to walking into a West State Street smoke shop at 3:48 p.m. on March 4 and robbing the 74-year-old clerk. A weapon was not used in the attack.

“I was pretty nervous,” he said when he accepted the plea. “I felt bad.”

Peacock said Tuesday, “Every action that has ever got him in trouble…has been directly related to his issues with addiction.”

Since the plea, however, Richards has undergone treatment — successfully.

Judge Joseph Cassidy said that reports from treatment facilities have been neutral and positive.

“Robbery is a crime the community cannot tolerate,” Cassidy, but he commended Richards’ success in getting sober and for taking responsibility for the crime.

Richards said, “It’s been a long 10 months and three weeks. I have done a lot of hard work.”

He said that in addition to the trauma he caused his victim, he suffered personal losses including a divorce in the subsequent months.

Richards, whose face was gaunt and scabbed over when he was taken into custody, looked healthy and full-faced.

He said about his treatment, “I did the best I could with it.”

Assistant District Attorney Diane Lama said Richards’ crime was traumatic for the victim. She called the crime “aggressive, greedy and repulsive.” She did, however, say that she was glad to hear Richards’ treatment was going well.

In addition to time served, Richards must complete felony drug treatment court, pay $150 restitution, and adhere to an 8-year order of protection to keep him away from the woman.

Cassidy said the sentence was “remarkable” because it’s so rare for a person to be sentenced to so little time after committing a crime.

If Richards had not successfully completed treatment, or if he violates any portion of the plea arrangement, he could serve as much as one to three years in prison.

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Jolene Almendarez

Jolene Almendarez is Managing Editor at The Ithaca Voice. She can be reached at; you can learn more about her at the links in the top right of this box.