A 29-year-old Carver man who robbed a New Bedford variety store at knifepoint has been sentenced to serve three to four years in state prison.

George Cowen last Thursday pleaded guilty to an armed robbery indictment, the Office of Bristol County District Attorney Thomas M. Quinn announced this week.

On February 19, 2019, an off-duty New Bedford police officer observed a suspicious male enter a Shawmut Avenue package store then leave without buying anything, according to a media release from Quinn's office. Believing the man was a shoplifter, the officer followed him and saw the man enter a 2004 Crown Victoria parked about 100 yards away. The officer ran the plates and learned the car was registered to a George Cowen. He went back and reviewed the surveillance footage and determined that the man had not shoplifted.

Not long thereafter, New Bedford Police responded to an armed robbery at JC’s Variety Store at 377 Cedar Street. The clerk told police that a heavy-set white male approximately 5 feet 10 inches and wearing a black baseball hat had entered the store armed with a knife and made off with around $400 in cash. The clerk told police the man had brandished the knife in a threatening manner, prompting him to open the cash drawer.

Police compared surveillance footage from the two stores and noted that the suspects appeared to be the same person. Police obtained a photo of Cowen and believed they had a match. Surveillance footage outside of JC’s Variety also showed a Ford Crown Victoria identical to the one seen earlier by Officer Duclos.

At the time of his arrest, Cowen was already on Superior Court probation for a previous conviction in Plymouth County.

"Despite being on probation, the defendant committed a violent armed robbery against the victim who was just trying to make a living. He is a danger to the community and needs to be kept off the street," Quinn said in a statement.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Kristen Wiley and the sentence was imposed by Judge Raffi Yessayan.

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