News and Press Releases


THURSDAY - January 27, 2011


RALEIGH - United States Attorney George E.B. Holding announced that in federal court today JOEL MATTHEW COVINGTON, 25, of Fayetteville, North Carolina, pled guilty before United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle to Hobbs Act robbery, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951, and use of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924(c).

A Federal Grand Jury returned a Criminal Indictment on November 24, 2010.

According to the investigation, on January 15, 2010, COVINGTON entered the Cumberland County ABC Store located on Person Street in Fayetteville. After waiting in line, COVINGTON approached the counter, producing a handgun. He then demanded the clerk give him all of the money in the register. After receiving $389 from the clerk and before leaving the store, COVINGTON threatened to “blow all of your heads’ off,” should anyone attempt to stop him. COVINGTON then left the store with the cash and the firearm.

At sentencing, set for April, 2011, COVINGTON faces up to 20 years’ imprisonment followed by up to three years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000 for the robbery charge and up to a term of life imprisonment, consecutive to any other term of imprisonment imposed, followed by up to five years’ supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

This case was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods(PSN) initiative 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 this case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Fayetteville Police Department; and the Cumberland County Alcoholic Beverage Control Commission. Assistant United States Attorney Ethan Ontjes represented the government.

News releases are available on the U. S. Attorney’s web page at within 48 hours of release.

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