Gas station robber sentenced

Michael Huff Jr. will spend 14 years behind bars. (WTOV)

Clear surveillance images of a Bellaire gas station robber helped local residents identify an armed suspect in May, and police in two states teamed up days later to get him behind bars.

On Monday, the multi-state offender with a lengthy rap sheet learned his fate in Belmont County as Judge Frank Fregiato sentenced him to the maximum.

There was no comment from Michael Huff Jr. during his sentencing, but as Judge Fregiato notes, crime is not one of Huff's new endeavors.

“It was a major crime with a firearm in a congested business area,” Bellaire Police Chief Mike Kovalyk said. "It did strike fear in our community.”

Surveillance images showed a man entering the Rich Oil Gas Station and producing a semi-automatic handgun while demanding money from the cashier. Police asked for help in identifying the suspect, and days later, with the help of local residents, police linked the images to 28-year-old Huff, from Washington, Pa.

Huff was caught en route to Wheeling. Police said he was attempting to board a bus to Georgia. Huff was transported to the West Virginia Northern Regional Jail and extradited back to Belmont County.

Fast forward to Monday, after Huff has pleaded guilty to one count of aggravated robbery with a gun specification.

"You have a robbery with a firearm. We are extremely lucky we do not have a dead person," Judge Fregiato said.

A 14-year prison sentence was handed down.

"The citizens of Bellaire are safe from this individual for a period of at least a decade and a half," Fregiato continued.

Chief Mike Kovalyk says he feels justice was served.

"I do think that it was served today. That is a stiff sentence and rightfully so,” Kovalyk said.

Huff will also spend up to five years on probation upon his release from prison.

His defense attorney said that there's tragedy on both sides of this crime, as Huff is throwing away many years of his life for a just few hundred dollars.

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