LOS ANGELES – A convicted murderer was sentenced today to 324 months in federal prison for robbing and attempting to rob nearly a dozen Los Angeles County businesses – including a veterinarian’s office – at gunpoint during a five-day crime spree in late 2020 while on parole from state prison for armed robbery.
Justin Washington, 34, of Gardena, was sentenced by United States District Judge Percy Anderson, who also ordered him to pay $9,019 in restitution and a special assessment of $1,100.
Washington pleaded guilty in October 2023 to 10 counts of interference with commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act) and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.
In mid-September 2020, Washington was released from state prison from a 10-year term for armed robbery and possession of a deadly weapon. Less than two months after his release, Washington murdered a rival gang member.
Then, from November 30 to December 4, 2020, Washington robbed and attempted to rob 10 businesses in the South Bay and in South Los Angeles. His robbery spree began at the same Gardena grocery store, which he robbed on consecutive days on November 30 and December 1, 2020. From there, in Gardena, Washington robbed a 7-Eleven store, a donut shop and attempted to rob a veterinarian’s office. He then robbed a donut shop in Torrance, and, in South Los Angeles, a wireless phone store, a dry cleaner business, two additional donut shops and, finally, a Baskin-Robbins ice cream store.
During his armed robbery of a Torrance donut shop on December 2, 2020, Washington pointed a gun at and then struck a store employee in the head, causing bodily injury. Washington then forced the victim to move to the shop’s back office to facilitate Washington’s search for money, then bound the victim’s hands.
While robbing a donut shop at gunpoint in South Los Angeles one day later, Washington pistol whipped an employee, causing serious bodily injury to the victim, then attempted to fire his gun.
In total, Washington stole $9,019 in cash and personal property during his five-day crime spree.
From December 2020 until July 2023, Washington was in state custody. He ultimately was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to 75 years to life in prison. He has been in federal custody since July 2023. Twenty years of Washington’s 27-year federal prison sentence will run consecutive to his state prison sentence for murder.
“This defendant was a walking crime spree and fully deserving of a major federal prison sentence,” said United States Attorney Martin Estrada. “Removing violent criminals such as this defendant from our streets is some of the most important work my office handles and we will continue to vigorously prosecute individuals who endanger our community.”
“Mr. Washington's short-lived criminal rampage terrorized small businesses and undoubtedly left his victims with lasting trauma,” said Donald Alway, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office. “Federal law enforcement in league with our local partners will hold accountable violent predators who target hardworking business owners and employees, as well as the communities they serve.”
“Data shows the average ATF defendant has 7.8 prior arrests and 2.16 prior felony convictions,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Los Angeles Field Division Acting Special Agent in Charge Michael Hoffman. “We target career criminals by collaborating with our law enforcement partners to remove these individuals from our communities. The violent crimes they commit will not be tolerated.”
The FBI; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; the Torrance Police Department; the Gardena Police Department; the Los Angeles Police Department; and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorney Sara Vargas of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case.