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District man charged with assault and robbing Goodwill twice

By Dan Morse
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, January 11, 2010; B01

Goodwill of Greater Washington offers training and job placement and is a favorite charity for those looking to donate clothes, electronics and furniture. Anthony Roland, according to police, decided to take something instead.

Montgomery County police said Roland, 33, of the District, walked into a Goodwill store in Gaithersburg in late November armed with a gun, took $2,000 from a safe and returned two weeks later for an additional $1,600. Police charged him last week after being called to his girlfriend's house, where she said she had been hit across the face with a metal folding chair and was bitten on her right forearm.

Roland was being held Sunday on two $50,000 bonds in the Montgomery jail, charged in the robberies and the assault. His criminal history includes charges for robbery, assault, drug possession and gun possession, and he had recently been in state custody, police said.

"To rob a charity, I find it just unbelievable," said Brendan Hurley, a spokesman for Goodwill of Greater Washington. He said Roland could have gotten job training at Goodwill's Career Campus in Northeast Washington.

"If he would have come to us for help, we would have provided it," Hurley said.

Training and job placement are the central missions of Goodwill, which raises money by selling donated items at its stores, such as the outlet in the 600 block of South Frederick Avenue in Gaithersburg.

The night of Nov. 27, at closing time inside that store, a short man wearing a black puffy jacket and carrying a black bowling-style bag approached. He posed as a customer, pulled out a black handgun and demanded cash.

Two weeks later, as an employee at the same store was opening for business, a man bearing the same description approached, this time armed with a silver handgun. He got money and fled on foot. Detectives concluded the same man likely committed both robberies, but they couldn't find him.

At the store, employees and customers grew concerned. Stephanie Courtney, who processes and prices donated merchandise, said she started eyeing everyone who came in. "You looked at everybody," she said.

Police located Roland last Monday after officers went to a house in Gaithersburg on a report of domestic violence. A woman told police that her boyfriend, Anthony Roland, punched her in the face and hit her with a chair, according to police documents.

Roland fled but was found by officers about 30 minutes later on a nearby street.

The assault victim told police that she knew about two robberies at a Goodwill store, according to charging documents. With Roland in custody, police searched his residence, where they found a loaded .40-caliber handgun linked to the Nov. 27 holdup. A witness also recognized a photograph of Roland, according to reports.

At the store this weekend, Courtney said some customers had stopped coming after the second robbery, despite increased police presence in and around the store. With the arrest, she said, "I think they'll start coming back."

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