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Sonic Robber Sentenced; One of County’s Most Wanted Arrested

By Brian Bearden, TSB Contributing Writer

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced Friday that Joseph Manuel Meisenbach of McKinney has been sentenced to 35 years in prison for armed robberies of two Sonic Drive-Ins in Plano and Allen.

The sentencing followed an open plea (plea of guilty but without a plea bargain agreement) on Friday, March 30.

On Sept. 24, 2011, Meisenbach pulled into a Sonic Drive-In in Allen, to order a drink. When the Sonic employee came to deliver the drink, Meisenbach pointed a gun at him and demanded all of his cash. The server complied. Meisenbach then sped away and drove through the nearby Kroger parking lot. The server was able to give a description of the suspect, the car, and a partial license plate.

The next day on September 25, 2011, Meisenbach pulled into a Sonic Drive-In in Plano and again placed an order for drinks. Again, when the Sonic employee came to deliver the drinks, Meisenbach pointed a gun at her and demanded all of her cash. The Plano server also complied. Meisenbach again sped away and the employee was able to give a description of the suspect and the car.

Through the joint efforts of Detective Scott Epperson of Plano Police Department and Det. Brandon White of the Allen Police Department, Meisenbach was identified as the primary suspect.  Police received anonymous tips through the North Texas Crime Stoppers website and witnesses were able to identity Meisenbach in a photo line-up.

On March 30, Meisenbach pled guilty to two counts of Robbery, second degree felonies.  Prosecutors enhanced the range of punishment to a first degree felony based on Meisenbach’s 2006 El Paso aggravated robbery conviction.  Meisenbach therefore faced a possibility of 5 to 99 years or life in prison.  Prosecutor Zeke Fortenberry presented testimony of the two Sonic employees who were robbed at gunpoint, the detectives who worked on the case, and the prior convictions of the defendant.

After hearing all of the evidence, State District Judge Mark Rusch found Meisenbach guilty of Robbery, the enhancement allegations true, and sentenced Meisenbach to 35 years in prison on each case.  The two sentences will run concurrent. Assisting on the case were District Attorney investigators Mike Bennett and Robin Laughon.

One of Ten Most Wanted arrested in New York

Collin County District Attorney Greg Willis announced that Brian Charles Sweeney was arrested on March 28, 2012, by the Suffolk County Police Department, N.Y. Sweeney is one of Collin County’s 10 most wanted since 1998.

Sweeney was arrested in April 1997 in Allen, Texas, for the offense of Sexual Assault of a Child and was subsequently indicted by a Collin County Grand Jury in August 1997.  A warrant was issued in September 1997 after Sweeney failed to appear in court.  Sweeney has eluded law enforcement since, having been on Collin County’s Ten Most Wanted listing since 1998.

Sweeney is now detained in Suffolk County, N.Y, on charges of Assault with Intent to Cause Physical Injury to Officer, Resisting Arrest, Obstruct Government Administration, and False Personation, and will be returned to Collin County following the disposition of charges in New York.

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