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November 15, 2011

Department of Justice

United States Attorney William C. Killian Eastern District of Tennessee


Federal Defendant Faces Decades in Prison after Trial

Firearms Charges Carry Mandatory Minimum Sentence of 57 Years

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Yesterday, following a four-day trial in U.S. District Court in Knoxville, a jury convicted Rodney Mack, Jr., 22, of Knoxville of the armed robbery and carjacking of three pizza delivery persons in 2009. The victims in the three separate incidents were two employees of Domino’s and one employee of Papa John’s.

Mack, having been convicted of three counts of brandishing a firearm during the commission of a violent crime, faces a potential life sentence when he is sentenced early next year. At a minimum, the Court must sentence Mack to at least 57 years in prison. There is no parole in the federal system.

The evidence at trial showed that Mack and an accomplice called in pizza orders for delivery to vacant houses, pulled a gun on the drivers upon their arrival, and then took the drivers’ pizzas, cash, cell phones and vehicles at gunpoint. The robberies and carjackings took place on July 23, July 28 and July 30, 2009.

Following the last incident in the very early morning hours of July 30, investigators from these agencies quickly identified Mack as one of the assailants and arrested him later that day. He was found to be in possession of the cell phones belonging to two of the victims, and was actually talking on one of them when he was arrested. Two of the three victims positively identified Mack as one of the robbers.

Mack testified on his own behalf at trial, and said that he bought the cell phones on the street from a “junkie”on the day of his arrest. He denied having committed any of the charged crimes, and presented two alibi witnesses, his mother and best friend, to attest to his whereabouts elsewhere at the time of each crime. However, as pointed out by an Assistant U.S. Attorney on cross examination, the call records contained in one of the cell phones demonstrated the impossibility of Mack’s story regarding how and when he claimed to have purchased the cell phones. Mack had no explanation for the discrepancy. The jury deliberated for only one hour before rejecting that defense and convicting him as charged.

The case was investigated by the Knoxville Police Department, Knox County Sheriff’s Office and the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Zachary Bolitho and Kelly Norris represented the United States.

U.S. Attorney William C. “Bill” Killian said, “Anyone in the Eastern District of Tennessee who is contemplating similar conduct should let this result serve as an example of the harsh consequences of doing so. Thankfully, none of the victims were hurt, and a violent criminal will spend most, if not all, of the rest of his life in prison.”

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a comprehensive national strategy that creates local partnerships with law enforcement agencies to effectively enforce existing gun laws. It provides more options to prosecutors, allowing them to utilize local, state, and federal laws to ensure that criminals who commit gun crime face tough sentences. PSN gives each federal district the flexibility it needs to focus on individual challenges that a specific community faces.

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