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Defendants face a minimum of 257 years in federal pen, if convicted

January 31, 2011

BEAUMONT, Texas – Three Beaumont residents have been indicted and arrested in connection with a crime spree targeting area convenience stores and fast food restaurants in the Eastern District of Texas announced U.S. Attorney John M. Bales today.

                Robert Lee White, 24, John Wesley Batiste, Jr., 23, and Savana Marie Miller, 25, were named in a 24-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 27, 2011.  The defendants will make their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Earl S. Hines today.

The indictment alleges that from Oct. 22, 2010 through Nov. 30, 2010, White, Batiste and Miller conspired together to commit robbery, which unlawfully obstructed, delayed and affected commerce in violation of federal law.  The defendants are specifically alleged to have committed 11 armed robberies in Beaumont during this 40-day crime spree which began on Oct. 22, 2010 after Batiste provided a pistol-grip shotgun to White.  The two then robbed the Sunshine Food Store on West Virginia that same day.  On Oct. 25, 2010, the defendants are alleged to have robbed the same Sunshine Food Store.  Less than an hour later, they hit the Sunshine Food Store on Concord.  On Oct. 27, 2010, the two men attempted a robbery at the Subway on South 11th Street before successfully robbing the Tri-Stop Grocery on Tram Road.  On Nov. 2, 2010, White and Batiste robbed the Subway on 11th Street with assistance from Miller, who was employed at the location and allowed White entrance through the backdoor.  During this robbery, White struck Miller's manager with the butt of the shotgun while Miller pretended to be a victim.  On Nov. 11, 2010, White robbed the Neighborly Store on North Major Drive.  On Nov. 14, 2010, White returned to the Sunshine Food Store on Concord and again robbed that location.  On Nov. 24, 2010, White robbed the Cool Stop located on College.  On Nov. 26, 2010, White robbed the Pick n' Shop on South Major Drive and then returned to the store the next evening and robbed it again.  Later on Nov. 27, 2010, White again robbed the Cool Stop on College. 

The defendants are each charged with 11 counts of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence, 12 counts of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of Hobbs Act conspiracy.  Under federal law, where there are multiple counts of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence, the first conviction is punishable by a minimum of seven years in federal prison, and additional convictions are punishable by a minimum of 25 years in prison, and each sentence must be served consecutively to any other sentence.  Therefore, the 11 firearm violations carry a potential minimum sentence of 257 years in federal prison.  The Hobbs Act violations each carry a maximum of 25 years in federal prison.
The case is being prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods Initiative. Project Safe Neighborhoods is aimed at reducing gun and gang violence, deterring illegal possession of guns, ammunition and body armor, and improving the safety of residents in the Eastern District of Texas. Participants in the initiative include community members and organizations as well as federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
This case is being investigated by the FBI, the ATF, and the Beaumont Police Department and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney John B. Ross

A grand jury indictment is not evidence of guilt and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.


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