Attempted Robbery of Over 100 Kilos of Marijuana
FLINT - Justin D. Cooper, 30 of Flint was sentenced today to 17 years in federal prison for his participation in the deadly attempted robbery of over 100 kilograms of marijuana from a residence in Sanilac County, announced United States Attorney Dawn N. Ison. Cooper was sentenced by United States District Judge Stephanie Dawkins Davis following his guilty plea in August of 2021.
Ison was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge Josh Hauxhurst of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-Detroit Division (FBI), Paul Rich, Sanilac County Sheriff, Keith LaMont, Michigan State Police, and Brenda Sanford, Sanilac County Prosecuting Attorney.
According to court documents, at various times prior to November 19, 2017, Cooper and his co-conspirators drove to a residence in Sanilac County where they attempted to break into a building on the property in order to steal over 100 kilograms of marijuana, which they later intended to distribute. When those attempts at stealing the marijuana failed, Cooper and his co-conspirators planned to take the marijuana by force by way of an armed robbery.
On or about November 18, 2017, and continuing until November 19, 2017, Cooper and his co-conspirators gathered at a residence in Flint to prepare for the robbery. Some members of the conspiracy armed themselves with firearms to use during the robbery. Cooper and other members of the conspiracy then traveled to a Marathon Gas Station on S. Dort Highway in Flint to obtain gasoline to facilitate their travel to Sanilac County and to purchase items to be used in the robbery. While at the Marathon Gas Station, Cooper purchased two boxes of lawn and leaf bags to be used by members of the conspiracy to carry away the 100 plus kilograms of marijuana they intended to rob. After they left the Marathon Gas Station, Cooper and other members of the conspiracy drove to the residence in Sanilac County. Cooper and his co-conspirators covered their faces and put on gloves while some of the co-conspirators brandished firearms as they approached the front door of the residence. As the group reached the front door, they kicked it in, forcibly entering the residence. Some members of the conspiracy discharged their firearms, exchanging gunfire with one of the residents. One resident was shot in the leg by the intruders. One of the residents shot two of the intruders, killing them both. Cooper and his co-conspirators retreated, fled the scene, and drove off in their vehicles.
“Combatting violent crime is a top priority for the Department of Justice and for our office. This deadly attempted robbery left one resident injured and two of the intruders dead, and our office is pleased that this sentence reflects our commitment to combat violent crime. I commend the efforts of our local and federal law enforcement partners in bringing those involved to justice. The U.S. Attorney’s office will work aggressively to protect the citizens of Sanilac County and across the Eastern District of Michigan”, said U.S. Attorney Ison.
Judge Davis sentenced Cooper to 84 months for conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, followed by a consecutive sentence of 10 years for aiding and abetting the discharge of a firearm during the incident. This resulted in total sentence of 204 months. Davis also sentenced Cooper to a 4-year term of supervised release following his term of incarceration.
Two of Cooper’s co-conspirators, Paul M. Drinkwine and John C. Williams, have also pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced by Davis in February.
The case was investigated by the Sanilac County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan State Police, and special agents of the FBI, with assistance from the Sanilac County Prosecutor’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jules DePorre, Ann Nee, and Anthony Vance.