Tanker Truck Robber Exiled to 12 Years in Prison

May 8, 2009

Baltimore, Maryland - U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake sentenced Willie O. McKinnon, age 44, of Greenbelt, Maryland, today to 12 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for armed robbery, in connection with a conspiracy to rob a tanker truck, announced United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein.

According to his guilty plea, on October 19, 2007, McKinnon engaged in a conspiracy to commit an armed robbery of a tanker truck. On that date, the victim drove a tractor trailer to a heating oil fueling station on Vera Street in Baltimore, Maryland. After the victim finished loading the heating oil, he pulled his tractor trailer away from the loading area, then stepped out to get a bill of lading for the shipment. He got back into the truck, and then pulled out of the fueling area and onto the street.

As the victim was driving, he heard a voice from behind him, from the sleeping compartment in the cab. The voice ordered the victim to turn right, and the victim felt a hard object against the back of his head (which he believed to be a gun). The victim complied with the gunman’s order to turn right.

The gunman, a member of the truck robbery conspiracy, asked the victim questions about the truck, and also told the victim to drive normally. The victim began to try to think of ways to escape, and told the gunman that he believed the trailer door to have swung open during the previous right turn. The victim told the gunman that he should get out and close the door, lest the police see the open door and stop the truck. The gunman agreed and the victim got out of the truck to close the door, using that opportunity to escape and call 911. The gunman then drove the stolen truck away.

The victim never got a good look at the gunman, who was wearing a mask. However, as he was getting out of the truck, the victim did get a close look at the gun, which was a black, semi-automatic handgun. The gunman drove the stolen tractor trailer out of Maryland.

The gunman or his co-conspirators made arrangements to dump the stolen contents of the tractor trailer, which they may have believed to be diesel fuel, in gas tanks belonging to a gas station owner with whom one of the conspirators was in contact, and left the empty tractor trailer on the street near the gas station.

McKinnon was identified as a possible suspect and law enforcement officers began to look for him. Federal agents arrested McKinnon on October 24, 2007, in connection with the truck-jacking and recovered a .45 caliber Ruger semi-automatic handgun from McKinnon’s waistband.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein thanked the Baltimore City State’s Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy and Assistant State’s Attorney Larry Doan, the Baltimore Police Department, the Metropolitan Police Department in Washington, D.C. and the Federal Bureau of Investigation for their assistance in the investigation and prosecution. Mr. Rosenstein commended Assistant United States Attorney Michael C. Hanlon, who is prosecuting the case.



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