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Press Release

Wendell Armed Robber Targeting Aldi Grocery Stores Sentenced to Nearly 30 Years in Prison

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of North Carolina

RALEIGH, N.C. –Lionel Robinson, 43, of Wendell, was sentenced to 356 months in prison for a string of armed robberies targeting Aldi stores across Eastern North Carolina between January and March of 2019. In October of 2022, a jury convicted Robinson for two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

“This defendant engaged in violent behavior in a grocery store where families do their shopping,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “Through a collaborative investigation between state, local and federal partners, we took a dangerous criminal off the street, and placed him behind bars for nearly 30 years. This sentence should serve as a deterrent to those that are engaged in violence in our communities.”

From January 2019 until March 2019, Robinson, sometimes with an accomplice, targeted Aldi stores in Lexington, Rocky Mount, Fayetteville, Winterville, Indian Trail, and Kernersville, North Carolina. Robinson would ring the back doorbell to the Aldi pretending to be a delivery driver. When an employee would answer the door, he would force his way inside, holding the employee at gunpoint and make them take him to the manager’s office where the store’s safe was located.  He would keep the gun pointed at the employee while giving directions to open the safe. Robinson wore disguises, including masks, gloves, and reflective vests. When law enforcement identified Lionel Robinson as a suspect, they executed a search warrant at his residence and recovered evidence relevant to the robberies, including gloves and clothing consistent with what was used in the robbery, rolled coins similar to what Aldi stores would have, and the suspect vehicle that was observed on camera. They also recovered a large quantity of ammunition.

Michael Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Rocky Mount Police Department, Fayetteville Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Lexington Police Department, Kernersville Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Rhoades and Yasir Sadat prosecuted and tried the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 5:21-cr-00017-FL.


Updated May 19, 2023

Violent Crime