Former Army Private and South Carolina Resident Pleads Guilty to Armed Robbery
Stephen R. Wigginton, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, announced today that on July 11, 2014, Denzell D. Grant, 19, a resident of South Carolina who was an Army Private stationed at Fort Hood, Texas, at the time of the commission of the offense, pled guilty to a two-count Indictment charging him, in Count 1, with Interference with Commerce by Robbery (Armed Robbery), and, in Count 2, with Possession of a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. The Armed Robbery count is a federal “Hobbs Act Robbery.” The Hobbs Act makes it a crime to obstruct, delay, or affect interstate commerce by robbery, and is used by United States Attorney Wigginton as a way to combat armed robbery in the Southern District of Illinois.
Grant faces a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty (20) years, a fine up to $250,000, or both, and a term of supervised release of not more than three (3) years on Count 1. On Count 2, Grant faces a term of imprisonment of not less than ten (10) years in prison, and that term must run consecutively (in addition) to any sentence imposed on Count 1, a fine up to $250,000, and a term of supervised release of not more than five (5) years. Sentencing is scheduled for October 24, 2014, in East St. Louis, Illinois. Grant has been held without bond since his initial appearance on February 27, 2014.
The offense occurred on October 13, 2013, when Grant, an Army private visiting Swansea with a friend, decided, with others, to rob Max’s One Stop in Swansea. Grant, wearing a mask and armed with a loaded gun, entered Max’s One Stop, and jumped over the counter which led to the area where the lone clerk, R.B., was sitting. Grant put the gun to R.B.’s head and told R.B. to give Grant all of the money. Grant held the gun on R.B. as Grant followed R.B. to the cash register. As R.B. was giving Grant the cash from the register, R.B. grabbed the gun and the two began struggling over the gun. During the struggle, the firearm discharged, injuring R.B.’s left hand and striking Grant in the right arm.
After being shot, Grant tried to escape by jumping over the counter into the customer area. At the same time, a customer who knew R.B. walked into the convenience store and heard R.B. call for help. The customer helped prevent Grant from escaping until the police arrived.
The victim, R.B., spoke at Grant’s change of plea hearing, stating that Grant told him that he (Grant) was going to kill R.B. R.B. said that he thought of his newborn child and began to wrestle with Grant over the gun. R.B. also informed the Court of the emotional consequences of the robbery, stating that, after a while, he could no longer work at Max’s because he (R.B.) would be scared every time the door to the store opened. Finally, R.B., looking directly at Grant, told Grant, “You’re in the Army. Your job is to protect us, not to kill us.”
The case was investigated by the Swansea Police Department, the Illinois State Police Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The case is assigned to Assistant United States Attorney Angela Scott.