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BEAUMONT RESIDENTS PLEAD GUILTY TO FEDERAL CRIMES RELATED TO ELEVEN AREA ROBBERIES
BEAUMONT, Texas – Three Beaumont residents have pleaded guilty to federal crimes 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.
John Wesley Batiste, Jr., 23, and Savana Marie Miller, 25, pleaded guilty on July 28, 2011, to charges of Hobbs Act robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence before U.S. Magistrate Judge Keith Giblin. Robert Lee White, 24, pleaded guilty to similar charges on Mar. 31, 2011. The three were originally named in a 24-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Jan. 27, 2011.
According to information presented in court, the crime spree began on Oct. 22, 2010, when White and Batiste agreed to rob a convenience store in order to obtain extra cash. The same day, after Batiste provided White with a pistol-grip shotgun, the two robbed the Sunshine Food Store on West Virginia. White entered the store with the shotgun and robbed the clerk while Batiste acted as the lookout and getaway driver. On Oct. 25, 2010, White and Batiste returned to the same Sunshine Food Store and attempted to rob it in the same manner. Less than an hour later, after returning Batiste to his home, White robbed the Sunshine Food Store on Concord. On Oct. 27, 2010, the two men attempted a robbery at the Subway on South 11th Street before White alone successfully robbed the Tri-Stop Grocery on Tram Road. On Nov. 2, 2010, White and Batiste successfully 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. Batiste acted as the lookout and getaway driver. 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. On Nov. 29, Beaumont Police officers stopped White as he was casing the Neighborly Store on Major Drive. During the traffic stop, officers located evidence related to the robberies, including a silver .357 revolver. The next day, Beaumont Police detectives executed a search warrant and located the pistol grip shotgun at Batiste and Miller's residence.
Batiste pleaded guilty to two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence, and Miller pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery, and one count of brandishing a firearm in a crime of violence. White pleaded guilty on March 31, 2011, and is scheduled for sentencing on Sep. 29, 2011, by U.S. District Judge Ron Clark. Sentencing dates for Batiste and Miller have not been set. 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.
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.