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Man sentenced to 40 years for grocery robberies

By Times Staff Writer
Published May 12, 2004

A Largo man charged in a series of grocery store robberies in mid and north Pinellas has pleaded guilty to seven felonies and has been sentenced to 40 years in prison, according to court records. Stephen D. Grainger, 45, was charged in a series of robberies in Tarpon Springs, Palm Harbor, Largo, Seminole and Pinellas Park.

In some of the holdups, Grainger showed store cashiers a note demanding money and either threatened to shoot them or reached toward his waistband as if he had a gun, according to Pinellas County sheriff's deputies.

He was ordered to pay restitution totaling $4,189. He was sentenced after pleading guilty March 26 to six robbery-related counts and one count of aggravated fleeing and eluding. He was arrested Jan. 9 after a high-speed chase through Largo that began when two Albertsons supermarket employees on their lunch break recognized Grainger's car from one of the robberies, began following it and called authorities. Grainger sped away at 90 mph when deputies joined the pursuit.

He crashed the car at Keene and Belleair roads. Prosecutors have dropped a charge filed against a second man, 42-year-old Jerry Kraus of Largo, who deputies said was in Grainger's car during one of the robberies.

[Last modified May 12, 2004, 01:56:30]

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