LOS ANGELES – Two South Los Angeles men pleaded guilty today to federal charges stemming from an armed robbery earlier this year on the crowded patio of a Beverly Hills restaurant in which one customer had a gun held to his head while the robbers removed his $500,000 wristwatch, and a second restaurant patron was shot and wounded.
Malik Lamont Powell, 21, and Khai McGhee, a.k.a. “Cameron Smith,” 18, each pleaded guilty today to three felony counts: conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, and using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
A third defendant who participated in the robbery – Marquise Anthony Gardon, 41, also of South Los Angeles – pleaded guilty on September 10 to two counts: interference with commerce by robbery, and using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
According to court documents, the three defendants – each of whom is a documented member of the Rollin’ 30s Crips street gang – drove to Beverly Hills on the afternoon of March 4 to commit an armed robbery. After scouting Beverly Hills for potential victims, the defendants decided to target a man wearing a Richard Mille wristwatch who was seated in the outdoor dining section of the Il Pastaio restaurant.
During the robbery, the victim was held at gunpoint. A struggle for the gun ensued, and at least two rounds were discharged from the firearm, one of which struck another restaurant patron in the leg. The gun was left at the scene, but the robbers fled with the watch, which was worth approximately $500,000.
United States District Judge John F. Walter is scheduled to sentence Powell and McGhee on February 14, 2022. Gardon’s sentencing hearing was previously scheduled for November 29.
As a result of their guilty pleas, each defendant faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each of the robbery-related offenses. The firearms charge, because the weapon was discharged, carries a mandatory minimum penalty of 10 years in federal prison and a statutory maximum sentence of life.
The FBI and the Beverly Hills Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph D. Axelrad and Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky of the Violent and Organized Crime Section are prosecuting this case.