Federal Charges Filed Against Five Crews Involved in Violent Robberies Throughout Metro Area
HOUSTON—In an effort to stem the influx of violent crime in the Houston area, U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson announced the filing of five criminal complaints charging 22 defendants with either bank robbery or commercial robbery as well as various firearms charges. Magidson made the announcement along with Perrye K. Turner, special agent in charge of the FBI, and Robert Elder, special agent in charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), as well as various state and local authorities.
The charges in the five separate but similar cases represent a joint initiative aimed at reducing violent takeover robberies of local businesses by organized crews of armed robbers. The criminal complaints were filed April 20-22, 2015, as four of the defendants were taken into custody. An additional 17 defendants have been transferred from state custody to federal custody. Three of those defendants will make their initial appearances in federal court April 24, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy, while the remaining 14 are expected to appear April 27-28, 2015, before U.S. Magistrate Judge Stephen Smith. The last defendant remains a fugitive and a warrant remains outstanding for his arrest. Anyone with information about the whereabouts of Michael Cornelious, 25, is asked to contact the FBI at 713-693-5000.
In the first case, Cornelious, Kevin Wayne Viser, 37, Fareed Jerrell Barefield, 26, Carey Dion Mitchell, 24, Johnny Ray Jones, 38, and James Leonard Ferguson, 33, all of Houston, are charged with aiding and abetting bank robbery and aiding and abetting the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. On Aug. 5, 2013, Jones and Ferguson allegedly entered the JP Morgan Chase Bank located at 2929 Shaver Street in Pasadena and ordered customers and employees to the floor at gun point and stole U.S. currency. The complaint filed in that case alleges that while Jones and Ferguson were in the bank, Viser, Barefield, Mitchell and Cornelious were outside conducting surveillance. Cornelious communicated with the suspects inside the bank through an open cell phone connection.
In the second unrelated case, Keith Deshawn Stephens, 27, Keon Kervin Jackson, 26, and Duquam Orlander Mathis, 21, all of Houston, are charged with aiding and abetting bank robbery and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. The criminal complaint alleges that on July 16, 2014, Mathis and Jackson entered the JP Morgan Chase Bank located at 6810 Fry Road in Katy and ordered customers and employees to the floor at gun point. They stole a large amount of U.S. currency, while one of them allegedly fired a shot into the bank’s ceiling to make sure no one followed when they exited. While Mathis and Jackson were in the bank, Stephens was outside of the bank conducting surveillance and communicating with Mathis and Jackson through an open cell phone connection.
The third criminal complaint announced today alleges Calvin Smith, 18, Rodney Ford, 18, Jamone Jones, 20, and Jerrol Bluford, 21, all of Houston, were part of a separate crew responsible for dozens of violent takeover robberies occurring in Harris County. All four men are charged with a federal offense known as the Hobbs Act, interference with commerce by robbery and using and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. According to the charges, on Jan. 25, 2015, Smith, Ford, Jones and Bluford entered the Metro PCS store at 834 Little York Road #B in Houston. Two of the men were allegedly armed with handguns. Employees of the store were ordered at gunpoint to open the safe and registers in the business and a small amount of U.S. currency was stolen.
The fourth case involves the violent robbery or attempted robbery of three commercial businesses in the North Houston area. Jerrieus Williams, 30, Alonzo Flowers, 22 , Kye Rue, 22, Andre Coleman, 23, and Paul McCoy Jr., 23, all of Houston, are charged with Hobbs Act conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. On Jan. 14, 2015, Flowers, Coleman and McCoy allegedly entered Jet Pawn, a federal firearms licensee located at 6135 F.M. 2920 in Spring. They were armed with handguns. One of the store employees was ordered at gunpoint to open the safe, from which cash and a firearm were taken. Additionally, 25 guns were stolen from cases on the sales floor. While the robbery was in progress, Williams was across the street conducting surveillance and communicating through an open cell phone line with Coleman. Rue acted as the driver of the getaway car and was waiting outside of the store when the robbers exited.
These same defendants were also allegedly involved in the armed robbery of Cash America Pawn, located at 3211-B F.M. 1960 in Humble on Jan. 9, 2015. The day before the robbery, Williams and Rue cased the pawn store, while Williams and McCoy were identified as the actual robbers. McCoy allegedly held a gun to the head of the store manager and Rue acted as the getaway driver, according to the complaint. These defendants also allegedly attempted to rob the Mad Dog Smoke Shop at 966 West F.M. 1960 in Houston on Jan. 29, 2015. Flowers and Rue allegedly entered the smoke shop with guns and masks covering their faces. However, an employee of the business retrieved his firearm and shot at the suspects, at which time the suspects fell to the ground, but managed to escape before police could arrive. The suspects dropped a firearm, which was later identified as a firearm stolen from Jet Pawn, according to the allegations.
In the final case announced today, Keith Deshawn Stephens, 27, Zachary Loudd, 23, Jerrel James, 21, Andrew Holley, 22 and Crystal Lewis, 22, all of Houston, are charged with aiding and abetting bank robbery and aiding and abetting the use and carrying of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of Violence. On June 27, 2014, three defendants entered the JP Morgan Chase Bank located at 4755 W. Panther Creek in The Woodlands. They ordered customers and employees to the floor at gunpoint and stole a large amount of U.S. currency.
Those charged with aiding and abetting bank robbery face up to 25 years’ imprisonment, while the conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery or interference with commerce by robbery have maximum penalties of 20 years in federal prison. For those charged with aiding and abetting in the possession or using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, they face a mandatory seven years in prison which must be served consecutively to the other sentence imposed. If convicted of the discharge of a firearm, those defendants face a mandatory 10-year consecutive sentence.All of the charges also carry as punishment a possible $250,000 fine.
The charges in the respective cases are the result of an investigation by the FBI and ATF along with sheriff’s offices in Harris, Montgomery and Fort Bend Counties, police departments in Houston and Pasadena, Texas Rangers and the Harris County District Attorney’s Office with the assistance of CrimeStoppers.
A criminal complaint is a formal accusation of criminal conduct, not evidence.