News and Press Releases

Two Miami Serial Armed Robbers Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Sentences

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 25, 2012

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Michael B. Steinbach, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Miami Field Office, Raymond A. Martinez, Chief, Miami Beach Police Department, and William R. Latchford, Chief, Seminole Police Department announced the sentencing of the last of five defendants in a case involving two armed robberies. On October 22, 2012, U.S. District Judge Joan A. Lenard sentenced defendants James Wilson, Jr. and Valantin Mesidor to 80 months and 70 months in prison, to be followed by 5 and 3 years of supervised release, respectively, for their roles in a series of armed robberies.

Previously, three other co-defendants were also sentenced. On October 1, 2012, Robert Gray was sentenced to 161 months in prison, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. On September 11, 2012, Cedrick Swasey was sentenced to 510 months in prison, to be followed by 5 years of supervised release. On July 30, 2012, Estephanie Mesidor was sentenced to 51 months in prison, to be followed by 2 years of supervised release.

According to publicly filed documents and statements made in court, on July 25, 2011, James Wilson, Jr., Robert Gray and Cedrick Swasey met to plan a robbery of high-end jewelry dealers from New York City who were visiting Miami on a business trip to sell jewelry to professional athletes at an event hosted by former professional basketball player Alonso Mourning. Wilson, Gray, and Swasey drove together to Miami Beach to identify the victim jewelers. On the way to Miami Beach, the defendants stopped to retrieve a firearm.

Upon arriving in Miami Beach, Gray, Wilson, and Swasey identified the jewelers, one of whom was carrying a backpack that the defendants believed contained the target jewelry. Gray and Wilson, pretending to be professional athletes interested in purchasing a watch, made a series of phone calls to one of the victim jewelers to arrange a meeting. During these phone calls, Gray and Wilson lured the victims first to the Hard Rock Casino, and finally to the Seminole Classic Casino, where Gray and Wilson told the victims they were gambling and partying on July 26, 2011.

After the victims arrived in the parking lot of the Seminole Classic Casino, the defendants pulled up alongside the victims’ car intending to rob them of the backpack at gunpoint. Gray and Swasey got out of the car. As the victims began to drive away, Swasey took out the firearm and began shooting at the passenger side of the victims’ car. Fortunately, the jewelers were able to get away.

A few months later, the defendants planned another armed robbery. In September 2011, Swasey met with Valantin Mesidor and his sister Estephanie Mesidor to plan a bank robbery. At the time, Estephanie Mesidor was a teller at a Wells Fargo Bank branch on Arthur Godfrey Road and had previously worked as a teller at another Wells Fargo Bank branch on Alton Road, both on Miami Beach. During these meetings, Estephanie Mesidor, with the help of Valantin Mesidor, provided information to Swasey regarding the opening procedures of the Wells Fargo Bank to prepare Swasey to rob the bank.

On September 21, 2011, Swasey, carrying a firearm, hid in the bushes of the Alton Road branch of Wells Fargo bank, while Robert Gray acted as a lookout in the getaway car. Swasey ambushed the two tellers who were opening the bank and forced to enter the bank at gun point. Swasey then led the tellers to the vault where he first fired a shot into the wall and then forced the tellers to open several safes. After taking more than $400,000 out of the bank vault, he bound the tellers with straps and fled the bank. After the robbery, Swasey dropped a bag containing part of the proceeds on the lawn at the residence of Estephanie Mesidor and Valantin Mesidor.

Mr. Ferrer commended the investigative efforts of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force, the Miami Beach Police Department, and the Seminole Police Department. This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Amanda Perwin.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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