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Gang Members Plead Guilty To Involvement In Armed Robberies Face up to 20 Years in Prison Plus Consecutive Sentences of 10 to 35 Years for Use of Firearms

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 9, 2009

Greensboro, NC – The last of four defendants charged in a string of armed robberies pleaded guilty today to federal charges, announced Anna Mills Wagoner, United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina.

KEITH LAUCHON JACKSON, RONNIE LEE COVINGTON, MATTHEW CHRISTOPHER SAVOY, and MARCEL ORLANDO WEST, were indicted on July 29, 2008, on one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and various related crimes, including robbery and firearms offenses. A Superseding Indictment was filed October 27, 2008 against JACKSON and SAVOY.

The robberies – ten in all – occurred between December 12, 2007 and January 3, 2008, at businesses just off the Business 85/Highway 29/70 corridor. The modus operandi of the robberies involved two young black males armed with shotguns or a shotgun and a rifle entering a business and demanding cash from store personnel as well as customers. A description of a suspect vehicle given by victims of the robberies lead to the arrest of the defendants on January 4 and 5, 2008. All four defendants admitted membership in the CRIPS Street Gang. JACKSON admitted he was the leader of the Mafia CRIPS and claimed that the others committed robberies at his suggestion in order to gain favor from him and status in the gang.

“Arrest and conviction of the perpetrators of this crime spree reflects the significant, coordinated efforts of dedicated law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and we are grateful to these individuals and agencies for their hard work,” said U.S. Attorney Wagoner, then added, “No single strategy, agency or group will solve the problem of gang violence, but the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Middle District is committed to working with government, law enforcement, social service agencies and community groups to implement, evaluate, and refine strategies which combat gang activity and make our neighborhoods safer.”

JACKSON, age 19, pleaded guilty today to Count One of the Superseding Indictment against him, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and Counts Nine and Nineteen, carrying and using, by discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. JACKSON is scheduled to be sentenced on May 20, 2009.

COVINGTON, age 21, pleaded guilty on October 24, 2008, to Count One of the Indictment, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and Counts Nine and Nineteen, carrying and using, by discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. COVINGTON is scheduled to be sentenced on February 19, 2009.

SAVOY, age 20, pleaded guilty on November 18, 2008, to Count One of the Superseding Indictment, conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, and Counts Nineteen and Twenty-One, carrying and using, by discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. SAVOY is scheduled to be sentenced on March 31, 2009.

WEST, age 21, pleaded guilty on October 24, 2008, to Count Eight of the Indictment, interference with commerce by robbery, and Count Nine, carrying and using, by discharging, a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. WEST is scheduled to be sentenced on February 19, 2009.

Each defendant convicted of Count One or Count Eight faces up to twenty years imprisonment, up to three years supervised release, and a fine of up to $250,000. The statutory penalty for a first violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) – the offense alleged in Counts Nine, Nineteen and Twenty-One – is a sentence of imprisonment of not less than 10 years, which cannot run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment, supervised release of not more than five years, and a fine of up to $250,000. The statutory penalty for a second or subsequent violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) is a sentence of imprisonment of not less than 25 years, which cannot run concurrently with any other term of imprisonment, supervised release of not more than five years, and a fine of up to $250,000. JACKSON, COVINGTON and SAVOY each pleaded guilty to two 18 U.S.C. § 924(c) offenses and are thus subject to mandatory 10 and 25 year sentences to run consecutive to one another and to the sentence imposed with respect to Count One.

The case was investigated by the United States Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the High Point Police Department, the Thomasville Police Department, the Lexington Police Department and the Davidson County Sheriff’s Department.

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