A Prince George's County man faces up to 50 years in prison after pleading guilty last week to a spree of robberies in Waldorf over about a two-week period in June.

Carlton Gales, 37, admitted his role in five robberies, and the victim in another case positively identified him as the robber, Charles County Assistant State's Attorney Michael C. DiLorenzo said at a Circuit Court hearing Wednesday. Gales's attorney did not dispute the account in court.

The robberies, mostly quick stickups of gas stations, highlighted a steep increase in Charles County robberies. Though robbery statistics for all of 2002 are not yet available, there were 122 robberies in the county through September, almost equaling the number of robberies for all of 2001.

Gales usually used a knife to threaten his victims, DiLorenzo said. His spree began on June 4, when he stole several cartons of menthol cigarettes and some cash from a car wash in Waldorf where he once worked, DiLorenzo said.

In the next few days, DiLorenzo said, Gales's robberies became more brazen. On June 7, he robbed an elderly woman at knifepoint as she stood in the parking lot of a Waldorf CVS drugstore.

On June 14, Gales was almost caught in Calvert County after he and an accomplice were pursued by a Maryland State Police trooper after they held up a 7-Eleven. Gales escaped by running through a Ruby Tuesday's restaurant during the lunch rush. He went out the back door and into some woods, authorities said. He now faces charges in Calvert as well.

"[The robberies] were becoming progressively worse," DiLorenzo said.

Gales will be sentenced on April 10 by Circuit Judge Christopher C. Henderson, who can give him a term of up to 50 years in prison.

The sentence "will prevent this individual from ever being a threat to the community and will send a message to other individuals that are considering committing such offenses," DiLorenzo said.

-- Michael Amon