By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A second Atmore man has been arrested in connection with the December 2019 armed robbery of Piggly Wiggly just across the Florida line.
Jail records and Escambia County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office reports show that 46-year-old Johnny Cecil Patterson of an East Ashley Street address in Atmore remained this week in the Escambia County (Fla.) Jail.
Patterson was arrested February 10 and charged with one count each of first-degree accessory after the fact to robbery with a firearm and accessory after the fact to larceny (grand theft).
ECSO investigators believe Patterson dropped off fellow Atmore resident and former Piggly Wiggly employee Maurice Montraye Ervin, 26, at the store on December 4, shortly before its 11 p.m. closing time.
Arrest reports show that Ervin, who is also from Atmore, entered the grocery at approximately 10:50 p.m. He pointed a handgun at an employee, who was ordered not to move or talk, then took almost $6,700 from the store’s safe before fleeing.
Investigators say Patterson was waiting inside his car outside the grocery store — with several Ziploc bags in which to put the stolen cash — when Ervin came running out with the loot. He then drove Ervin to his Sunset Drive home.
The first clue to the gunman’s identity came when the store employee — who could not see the robber’s face because he had on a mask — told lawmen she recognized the voice as that of Ervin, with whom she used to work. Further evidence pointed his way when lawmen found his driver’s license in a ditch behind the Piggly Wiggly.
Ervin reportedly lost his job at the Davisville store in late October 2019. He was charged with grand theft (larceny) of less than $5,000 after video surveillance cameras showed him taking more than $900 from the store’s office.
Sheriff’s reports show that Ervin was arrested by Atmore police on a probation violation warrant December 12 at his residence. While serving the arrest warrant, police found a weapon similar to the one used in the grocery store hold-up inside Ervin’s home.
He was later that day charged by ECSO investigators with one count each of robbery with a firearm and first-degree aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
Authorities said Ervin made several electronically monitored telephone calls to Patterson from the county jail shortly after his arrest. He reportedly told Patterson where the stolen money was hidden and asked him to bring part of it to the jail to put on his canteen account.
Patterson reportedly admitted taking Ervin to the store and picking him up but told investigators the two had “no conversation” during the six-mile ride to the bandit’s home after the robbery and swore that he refused to go get the contraband cash when Ervin asked him.
Due to an outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court, Patterson is being held without bond, although jail records show that total bonds of $105,000 have been set for him on the most recent charges.