Union Man Convicted in Retrial of 2015 McDonald’s Robbery Case

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SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ – Thomas H. Outland was once again convicted for an armed robbery of a McDonald’s restaurant in Scotch Plains in 2015. He was found guilty in 2017, but had his case overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court. Today, he is guilty once again.

Union County Prosecutor William A. Daniel said Friday, Thomas H. Outland, 49, was convicted on charges of second-degree conspiracy to commit robbery and fourth-degree possession of an imitation firearm following a six-day trial before state Superior Court Judge Robert A. Kirsch. 

“This is the second time that Outland stood trial for this robbery.  Five years ago, in June 2017, Outland was found guilty by a Union County jury on the same charges.  That conviction was eventually overturned by the New Jersey Supreme Court in March of 2021 on that grounds that Outland was improperly denied the right to represent himself at trial. Outland elected not to represent himself at the second trial,” the Union County Prosecutor’s Office reported.

According to public records, at approximately 12:30 a.m. on September 4, 2015, Outland and an as-yet-unidentified co-conspirator, both of whom were wearing masks and brandishing firearms, entered an unlocked door of the McDonald’s on Route 22 in Scotch Plains, according to Union County Assistant Prosecutors Aran McNerney and Marilyn Muller, who prosecuted the case.

“The unidentified suspect then began demanding the cell phones of some of the employees who were cleaning the restaurant at the end of their shift while Outland, a former employee of the restaurant, began walking directly toward the manager’s office, where the restaurant safe was located,” police reported. ” On his way, however, Outland was intercepted by one of the store employees, who loudly asserted that Outland’s weapon was fake and suggested that he could get killed.”

At that time, Outland removed his mask, lowered his imitation firearm, and announced to the restaurant employees that his actions constituted a practical joke. He and the second suspect, who never removed his mask, then returned the employees’ cell phones and immediately left the area.

Outland was arrested in January 2016 and indicted a month later. At the time of the robbery Outland was out on bail on another charge.

“The incident took place when Outland was free on bail in connection with an unrelated robbery that took place in April 2014. An investigation involving the Prosecutor’s Office and the Plainfield Police Department determined that in that incident, he and two other as-yet unidentified suspects made off with approximately $35,000 in cash from a Plainfield check cashing store. A jury convicted Outland on multiple charges associated with that crime in May of 2016,” the prosecutor’s office reported.