YOUNGSTOWN South Side bar-robber pleads guilty

Sentencing will be March 15 in common pleas court.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The last of three suspects in a July 4, 2000, robbery and shooting spree has pleaded guilty.
Kenneth Rodgers, 17, of East Indianola Avenue, entered the plea Tuesday in Mahoning County Common Pleas Court to two counts of complicity to felonious assault and 10 counts of complicity to aggravated robbery.
Judge R. Scott Krichbaum scheduled sentencing for March 15 and ordered a background check on Rodgers in the meantime.
Sentence: Assistant Prosecutor Patrick R. Pochiro recommended five-year sentences on each count, to be served concurrently, meaning he'd serve only five years. The final decision is up to the judge.
Rodgers will also serve a mandatory three years because he pleaded guilty to a firearm specification, which means he used a gun to commit the crimes.
Two co-defendants, Edward Brandon of East Boston Avenue and Jawaun Phifer of Roxbury Avenue, pleaded guilty last year to similar charges. Brandon was sentenced to 18 years in prison and Phifer was sentenced to 23 years.
All three are 17 but were bound over to be tried as adults. Pochiro said they robbed the South Side Civics club.
The recommended sentence for Rodgers is significantly lower than the others because he has no prior record and he did not shoot anyone.
Brandon and Phifer robbed another South Side business that same day, while Rodgers was involved only in the South Side Civics crime, Pochiro said.
Defense attorney Thomas Zena said the lower sentence recommendation is "absolutely justified and there are "great distinctions" between Rodgers' case and the other cases.

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