FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
MONDAY - January 5, 2009
FOUR PLEAD GUILTY TO ACTS OF ROBBERY
GREENVILLE - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today four defendants charged in Hobbs Act robberies from July 22, 2008, to August 24, 2008, pled guilty before United States Magistrate Judge David W. Daniel. RONNIE RAND, 21; AHMAD BANKS, 20; JOSHUA WAGNER, 20; and DARYL MPONGO, 22, all of Raleigh, North Carolina, pled guilty to aiding and abetting the use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c). Additionally, RAND, BANKS, and WAGNER pled to conspiring to commit Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951.
A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on November 6, 2008. On July 22, 2008, RAND entered the Kangaroo gas station on Pleasant Valley Road in Raleigh, under the ruse of a legitimate customer, posed as the look-out. BANKS, entering the store armed with a hammer and wearing a ski mask, proceeded to the counter, raised the hammer and demanded the cashier open the register and give him all of the cash. BANKS was given $60 and then fled. Much like the previous robbery, on August 18, 2008, WAGNER entered the 612 Convenience Store on Avent Road in Raleigh, posing as a legitimate customer to “case” the store. RAND and BANKS approached the store wearing masks and gloves. RAND, brandishing a .380 handgun, demanded that the employees open the safe, robbed the store of $200. The next day, WAGNER “cased” Krogers grocery store on Creedmoor Road in Raleigh. RAND and BANKS entered the store, ordering all of the employees to the front of the store where they were held at gunpoint. RAND and BANKS escaped with $324.43. Finally, on August 24, 2008, WAGNER, RAND, BANKS and MPONGO robbed the McDonalds restaurant on Six Forks Road in Raleigh, of $2,600. On August 28, 2008, officers with the Raleigh Police Department located and performed a traffic stop of the get-away car. A search of the vehicle uncovered a 9mm handgun. On August 29, 2008, a search warrant was executed of RAND’s residence and a .380 Bersa handgun and a box of Winchester ammunition were found.
Mr. Holding commented: “In recent months my office has paired with federal, state and local authorities to address the increase in violent crime and robberies in Raleigh and Wake County. This case grew out of that effort. We will continue to work with authorities in this area in an effort to bring this problem under control.”
The maximum penalty for the firearms charge is up to life imprisonment, consecutive to any other term imposed, followed by up to five years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. For the charge of robbery, the maximum penalty is 20 years followed by up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.
Sentencing is set for the April 6, 2009, term of court.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods which encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.
Investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and the Raleigh Police Department. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes served as prosecutor for the government.
News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at www.usdoj.gov/usao/nce within 48 hours of release.