Strike nine and he's out.

Or maybe that's 21 strikes, if you count all the times Frederick "Chief" Owle has been arrested.

Either way, Owle won't get another shot after a Superior Court judge this week sentenced the 49-year-old to life in prison after his most recent bust for stealing a pack of Newport cigarettes from a Wawa and a few hundred dollars from a gas station.

Owle didn't kill or hurt anyone when he held up the Wawa clerk at the point of a pocketknife and two Valero attendants while armed with a pipe on April 14, 2017.

But it was his extensive record, including arrests for burglary, assault, and weapons offenses, that finally did him in.

Prosecutors argued for an extended term as a repeat, violent offender. Judge Philip E. Haines, sitting in Mount Holly, sentenced him to life for one count of first-degree robbery and a concurrent 17 years for a second count.

“On the surface, it might appear that Mr. Owle is going to spend the rest of his life in prison for stealing a pack of cigarettes and a few hundred dollars, but the justification for this sentence is irrefutable,” Prosecutor Scott Coffina said in a prepared statement Thursday. “This defendant has demonstrated total disregard for the law and safety of others time and time again, which warrants the tough sentence we sought.”

Owle first held up the Wawa in Florence and demanded the clerk give him cash from the register. But police said he fled with just the pack of cigs when the clerk broadcast over the intercom that a robbery was taking place.

Police said Owle next went to the Valero and made off with $500.

Cops found him a few hours later at Budget Inn on Route 130 in Burlington Township.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email

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