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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Columbia

Monday, August 19, 2013

District Man Sentenced To Nearly 14 Years In Prison

For Series of Attacks Against Taxicab Drivers
-He and Others Posed as Passengers at Union Station, Other Places-

     WASHINGTON - Tony Copeland, 22, of Washington, D.C., has been sentenced to nearly 14 years in prison on charges stemming from a series of attacks against taxicab drivers, U.S. Attorney Ronald C. Machen Jr. announced today.

     Copeland pled guilty in May 2013 in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia to one count each of carjacking and robbery. He was sentenced on Aug. 16, 2013 by the Honorable Heidi M. Pasichow to 13 years and 360 days of incarceration.

     The charges were filed in a series of cases involving the carjacking, assault, and robbery of taxicab drivers that took place in October and November of 2011.  The government alleged that Copeland was the ringleader behind several incidents in which he and others went to the Union Station taxicab line posing as paying customers, soliciting cab fares to the area of 44th Street NE.  Once at the destination, Copeland and his accomplices would choke the drivers from behind, or simply demand money. Among the items stolen from the several victims were hundreds of dollars in cash, cell phones, GPS devices, and a Rolex watch. 

     The carjacking charge stemmed from a crime that took place on Nov. 14, 2011. That day, at about 3:45 p.m., Copeland and three others solicited a taxicab from Union Station. Copeland asked the driver to take them to the 4600 block of Grant Street NE.  When the driver arrived at the destination, Copeland reached around from the rear driver’s side seat and choked the driver from behind by placing his arms around the driver’s throat.  Meanwhile, the two other individuals went through the driver’s belongings, stealing cash, credit cards, a cell phone, and a blank check filled out in the amount of $180. Copeland and the others ordered the cabdriver out of the taxi.  One of the individuals, a juvenile, got into the driver’s seat and drove away with the cab.  Copeland and the remaining individual ran from the scene.  The victim was able to flag down a neighbor, who gave the victim a cellphone to call 911.  The taxicab was recovered days later by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), in the area near Copeland’s residence.

     The robbery charge stemmed from an incident on Nov. 20, 2011, this time starting at the Greyhound bus station on First Street NE. Copeland and another accomplice arrived at the station at about 11:30 a.m. and stood outside waiting for a cab. They solicited a taxicab ride and asked the driver to take them to the area of the 4600 block of Brooks Street NE. Once there, the accomplice put the driver in a choke-hold. Copeland and the accomplice stole about $100 in cash, a cellphone, car keys and a brown leather jacket in the attack.

     In announcing the sentence, U.S. Attorney Machen praised the work of those who investigated the case from the Metropolitan Police Department. He also commended the efforts of those who worked on the case from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Paralegal Specialists Antoinette Sakamsa and Tony Griffith, Victim/Witness Advocate Jim Brennan, and Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard E. DiZinno, who prosecuted the matter.


Updated February 19, 2015