Armed robber from Oxford Circle gets prison time


John Gassew of Ox­ford Circle had a long his­tory with Phil­adelphia po­lice but a shock­ingly brief his­tory with pris­on un­til he met U.S. Dis­trict Judge An­ita Brody on May 15.

Brody ordered Gassew, 25, of the 6000 block of Lovatt Ter­race, to serve 37 years in a fed­er­al pen­it­en­tiary for com­mit­ting armed rob­ber­ies of two North­east busi­nesses, one in 2007 and an­oth­er in 2009.

Be­fore en­ter­ing Brody’s courtroom, Gassew had been ar­res­ted more than 40 times, most for rob­ber­ies, ac­cord­ing to a 2009 re­port by The Phil­adelphia In­quirer. Yet, Gassew avoided con­vic­tion each time.

In many of the earli­er cases, city pro­sec­utors dropped charges against Gassew when wit­nesses failed to show up for court after re­peated hear­ing post­pone­ments.

Know­ing that, the U.S. At­tor­ney’s Of­fice ad­op­ted his latest case, al­leging that his crimes in­terfered with busi­nesses en­gaged in in­ter­state com­merce. On Feb. 1, a jury found Gassew guilty of rob­bing Danny Boy’s Bar, at 7447 Tor­res­dale Ave., on Dec. 9, 2007, and the 7-El­ev­en, at 8101 Ox­ford Ave., on Oct. 28, 2009.

The jury also con­victed him of two counts of us­ing a fire­arm in a crime of vi­ol­ence. Un­like state courts, the fed­er­al sys­tem does not of­fer pa­role or early re­lease for “good be­ha­vi­or.”

In the fed­er­al case, Gassew also was ac­cused of rob­bing the 7-El­ev­en at 2634 Bridge St. on Oct. 26, 2009, but that charge didn’t stick.

Two days after that heist and shortly after Gassew robbed the Ox­ford Av­en­ue 7-El­ev­en, po­lice spot­ted him driv­ing a stolen black pickup truck south­bound on Ox­ford at a high rate of speed. When of­ficers chased him, Gassew crashed the truck and star­ted shoot­ing at his pur­suers. Po­lice re­turned fire, wound­ing Gassew four times. ••


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