Three Men Sentenced for Armed Robbery of West Bloomfield Tappers Jewelry
The final three defendants were each sentenced to 33 years in prison today for their involvement in the violent armed robbery of Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in West Bloomfield and an attempted armed robbery of Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids in April 2014, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.
Co-conspirator Nathaniel Pembrook was sentenced to 33 years last week.
David Briley, 47, Shaheed Calhoun, 36, and Orlando Johnson, 42, were convicted along with Pembrook of a variety of charges, including conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by force, interference with interstate commerce by force, use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being felons in possession of firearms after a four week-long trial in November and December 2015. The evidence produced at trial showed that all four men lived in Philadelphia and traveled to Michigan on April 21 and 22, 2014, to commit armed robberies of jewelry stores, particularly targeting Rolex distributors, as part of a six-person robbery crew.
This armed robbery crew initially attempted to steal Rolex watches and other valuables from Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids, at approximately 12:28 pm on April 22, 2014. During that attempted robbery, one robber used a hammer to smash the Rolex watch display while three other robbers, one armed with a gun, rushed to the back area of the store looking for other valuables. The store owners, who are registered concealed pistol owners, shot the armed robber, and all of the robbers fled without any valuables.
About five hours later, three men, dressed in identical clothes as the robbers in Grand Rapids earlier that day, entered Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, and held employees and customers at gunpoint as they stole approximately $1.3 million worth of Rolex watches. The men then fled the store without being apprehended.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kent County Sheriff Department, and West Bloomfield Police Department coordinated their investigative efforts and began to piece together various pieces of evidence to identify the armed robbers. Pembrook’s blood, containing DNA, were found at the Medawar Jewelers location. Investigators discovered that Pembrook checked himself into Pennsylvania Prysberatian Hospital in the early morning hours of April 23, 2014, complaining of a gunshot wound. The hospital removed the bullet from Pembrook’s arm and Michigan State Police laboratory personnel were able to match the fired bullet to the Medawars owner’s firearm. Additionally, investigators tracked down video and cell phone information that helped to place all of these men from Philadelphia at the robbery locations during the times of the robberies.
Court records show that these men had a long history of committing larcenies and armed robberies. Briley had been previously convicted on 17 prior occasions, Calhoun had eight prior convictions, and Johnson had 13 prior convictions.
“We are grateful for the outstanding coordination by law enforcement agencies across state lines to put this case together.” McQuade said. “Armed robbery creates an unacceptable risk of harm to the public, and we are pleased that these men will be off the streets for a long time.”
Law enforcement agencies are still attempting to identify the final two persons associated with this robbery crew. If anyone has any information about those person’s identities, they are asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Lemisch and Christopher Graveline.