February 27, 2015

Joint Federal and State Investigation Leads to Indictment of 17 Individuals for Smash and Grab Robberies Across the United States

Seventeen individuals from the metro-Detroit area have been charged in a series of smash and grab robberies of jewelry stores across the United States, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge Paul Abbate, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Detroit Field Office, along with partners of the FBI Oakland County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force which include, Sheriff Michael J. Bouchard, Oakland County Sheriff’s Office; Director Rebecca Adducci, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations, Detroit Field Office; Commander Monica Yesh, Michigan State Police; Chief Eric Hawkins, Southfield Police Department; Chief Geof Gaudard, Bloomfield Township Police Department; Acting Chief Jeff James, Waterford Police Department; Chief Corrigan O’Donahue, Royal Oak Police Department; Assistant Deputy Director Beverly Smith, Michigan Department of Corrections and other local police agencies.

Three separate federal indictments filed during the past month charge the defendants with conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery of stores located in New York, Maryland, North Carolina, Mississippi, Nebraska and Connecticut.

These indictments follow a series of investigations nationally by various state, local and federal law enforcement agencies involving approximately 40 smash and grab robberies in 2014. In Michigan alone, between 2012 and 2014, approximately 25 smash and grab jewelry store robberies were committed. FBI agents and other state and local law enforcement officers continue to work collaboratively to identify and criminally charge all of the individuals responsible for these robberies.

According to the indictments, crews from the metro-Detroit area planned and executed six robberies. The crews traveled across the country to jewelry stores that sell Rolex watches and other jewelry. Several members of the crew entered the jewelry stores while they were open for business, smashed the Rolex display cases with sledge hammers and fled the store with Rolex watches, valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars. The robbers escaped into waiting, stolen vehicles and returned to Michigan with the stolen watches.

The indicted defendants are:

  • Elijah McKinney, 24, of Detroit
  • Darius Ellis, 30, of Detroit
  • Kordaryl Cross, 25, of Westland
  • Latrina Williams, 38, of Detroit
  • Lorenzo Daniel Terry, 21, of Detroit
  • Anthony Jerome Browner, 24, of Farmington Hills
  • DaJuan Cortez Marcellus, 24, of Detroit
  • Brandon Phillip Wilkerson, 24, of Detroit
  • Marquis Wade Cheatham, 24, of Detroit
  • Darien Savon Thompson, 21, of Detroit
  • Britnei Rodgers, 29, of Detroit
  • Ernie Thomas Evans, 25, of Detroit
  • Darrick Adams, 29, of Detroit
  • Brandon Mayes, 20, of Detroit
  • Bria Jackson, 22, of Shelby Township
  • Bria Stanford, 21, of Belleville
  • Shaquita Wyatt, 24, of Detroit

“These crimes, committed during business hours, are serious because of the danger and trauma they create for the victim customers and sales clerks,” McQuade said. “These defendants travelled around the country to commit their crimes in hopes of dividing and conquering witnesses and investigators, but with the collaboration of law enforcement agencies across the country, those schemes have been thwarted.”

Special Agent in Charge Abbate stated, “The defendants in this case intentionally targeted jewelry stores across the country, exposing the public to danger and attempting to thwart the efforts of law enforcement. Together, law enforcement at every level, through shared intelligence, resources, and evidence, brought their crime spree to a halt. The FBI stands, along with its partners, both local and national, ready to bring other criminal smash and grab robbery crews to justice.”

Sheriff Bouchard stated, “Clearly as evidenced by this case, criminals do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries. Therefore, it is imperative for all agencies to work together to defeat complex criminal activity. It’s a pleasure for us to have the Gang and Violent Crime Task Force work out of our Pontiac substation and we are proud of the relationships and success that comes from this teamwork.”

Chief Hawkins stated, “This is another great example of how law enforcement agencies at different levels of government can work together to disrupt complex criminal enterprises and take dangerous individuals off the streets. I commend the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and all of the officers involved for their hard work on this case.”

John Kennedy, head of the Jewelers’ Security Alliance (JSA) that represents the interests of 21,000 retail jewelry stores stated, “It’s very difficult for a local agency to address the problem by itself, but when the FBI—with its national and international scope—assists, the overall law enforcement effort is more effective.” The JSA also plays a key role in these investigations by offering law enforcement agencies access to its database of jewelry and gem thefts.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Company and an industry consortium are offering a combined reward of up to $45,000 for information leading to the arrest of other individuals responsible for these robberies.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt. Every defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case is being investigated by the FBI Oakland County Gang and Violent Crime Task Force which is comprised of special agents and officers of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Enforcement and Removal Operations; Oakland County Sheriff’s Office; Michigan State Police; Southfield Police Department; Bloomfield Township Police Department; Royal Oak Police Department; Waterford Police Department and the Michigan Department of Corrections. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Douglas Salzenstein and Jerome Gorgon.