Skip to content
Link copied to clipboard

Violent Philly gang member gets life plus 85 years, lashes out at federal judge

Robert Hartley, 47, was part of a 20-member gang involved in a number of violent crimes in Philadelphia between 2012 and 2014.

Robert Hartley
Robert HartleyRead morePhiladelphia Police Department

A serial home invader and gang member with a penchant for cursing at court officials was sentenced Monday in federal court in Philadelphia to life plus 85 years in prison for his involvement in a series of violent home invasions and carjackings. True to form, he lashed out at the judge and a federal agent.

Robert Hartley, 47, was part of a 20-member gang involved in a number of violent crimes in Philadelphia between 2012 and 2014. He and 15 other members were indicted in 2015, with some facing life in prison. One of the leaders, Khalil Smith, was sentenced Nov. 19 to life plus 207 years in federal prison; other members have trials coming up in the next few weeks.

Among the more serious charges against Hartley involved his participation in a home invasion in Southwest Philadelphia in April 2014 in which he and other defendants mistakenly identified a man as a drug trafficker. The victim was waterboarded and stripped naked, and boiling water was poured on his groin. The attackers threatened to sodomize his wife while his 4-year-old daughter watched. After realizing their target was not a drug trafficker, they stole his car.

"He has no regard for human suffering," U.S. District Judge Mitchell S. Goldberg said of Hartley in court Monday. "He has no empathy. He has zero respect for anybody."

At his conviction in April 2017, after the verdicts were read, Hartley had called out to Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeanine Linehan: "I'm going to bust you in your f–ing face, you white b–."

At Monday's sentencing hearing, Hartley first refused to be present if restraints were required. But eventually he agreed to wear restraints, and entered the courtroom 15 minutes later, staring down others in the room.

When the defense and prosecution stepped forward to speak with the judge, Hartley took the opportunity to hurl degrading remarks to Special Agent Charles Doerrer of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, calling him a "homo" at least five times.

"I think his disrespect for this whole process is small and pales in comparison to the pain he inflicted to his completely innocent victims," Goldberg said in court.

As the prosecution prepared to begin its presentation, Hartley said he was done and was escorted back to his cell. He did not leave quietly, directing an expletive at the judge.

The sentence was read without Hartley in the room.

"As harsh and extreme as the sentencing seems, it appropriately reflects the horrible crimes that he committed against these victims," Linehan said afterward.