Bond was set at $125,000 Monday for a 31-year-old Billings man accused of robbing a West End convenience store by throwing hot chocolate on the clerk.

Prosecutors allege the robbery netted $48.

Michael Richard Barreca Jr. appeared in Justice Court by video from the county jail on a felony robbery charge. Judge Larry Herman set the high bond after Deputy County Attorney Robert Spoja said Barreca has a criminal record that includes convictions in New York and Montana for burglary and robbery.

Barreca also has a pending burglary charge in Yellowstone County, Spoja said, and is a registered violent offender who was arrested in August in New York on the local burglary warrant.

Barreca is accused of walking into the Zip Trip convenience store at 16 Shiloh Road at 8:30 p.m. Friday, pouring himself a cup of hot chocolate and approaching the counter.

When the clerk opened up the cash register, he threw the hot chocolate in her face, reached over the counter and took $48 out of the register, prosecutors allege. The robber fled in a pickup truck.

The clerk suffered minor burns and did not require medical attention.

Barreca was arrested at his girlfriend's house on Belvedere Drive on Sunday morning. Barreca helps the woman care for her seven children and told police after his arrest that he was having financial difficulty because his hours at work had been cut back, Spoja said.

Barreca was arrested earlier this year in Lewiston, N.Y., by a U.S. Customs agent, according to Billings Police Department Sgt. Kevin Iffland.

Iffland said Barreca was arrested on the local burglary warrant on Aug. 31. He is charged in that case with taking cash from the Alpine Casino at 1116 16th St. W. on Aug. 25.

Iffland said Barreca was an employee of the casino at the time of the alleged burglary.

Barreca was ordered to appear Dec. 20 for arraignment in District Court on the new robbery charge.



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