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Press Release

Norfolk Man Sentenced for Role in Colonial Heights Armed Robbery

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

RICHMOND, Va. – A Norfolk man was sentenced today to over 14.5 years in prison for his role in a violent armed robbery of a Sprint Store in Colonial Heights.

According to court records and evidence presented at trial, on the afternoon of January 7, 2019, Ronnell Kareen Levon Johnson, 28, and his co-conspirator, Tajh Rodgers, 32, of Norfolk, traveled from the Norfolk area to Colonial Heights to commit an armed robbery of a Sprint Store. During the robbery, Rodgers brandished a loaded .40 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol and forced two employees into a back room of the store, where he let Johnson in through the back entrance. Johnson entered the store and started gathering Sprint Store merchandise into a bag.

Johnson and Rodgers then held the employees hostage in the back room, and attempted to tie up both victims while they completed the robbery. Due to a time-delay lock on the store’s safe, the defendants had to wait approximately 20 minutes for the safe to open. During that time, two separate customers entered the front of the store. Rodgers let one of the employees assist each customer, along with a warning that the employee would be killed if he tried to alert anyone about the crime. The employee followed those instructions and the final customer left without incident. Minutes after the second customer departed, the time-delay lock on the safe opened, allowing Johnson and Rodgers to steal dozens of cellular telephones and other store merchandise valued at approximately $25,000.

During a court-authorized search of Rodgers’s residence, officers recovered the loaded .40 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol used in the robbery, various stolen Sprint Store items, and other evidence. Using toll records and cellular tower data, law enforcement later identified Johnson as Rodgers’s co-conspirator in the armed robbery based on Johnson’s travel to and from the Colonial Heights Sprint Store on January 7, 2019, along with other evidence.

Johnson was sentenced today to 175 months in prison. On May 28, a federal jury in Richmond convicted Johnson on one count of robbery affecting commerce. Rodgers pleaded guilty on October 22, 2019 to the Colonial Heights armed robbery as well as three charges of possessing a firearm in furtherance of drug trafficking. Rodgers was sentenced to 28 years imprisonment on January 9, 2020 for his role in the armed robbery and other unrelated criminal conduct.

Raj Parekh, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Charlie J. Patterson, Special Agent in Charge of the ATF’s Washington Field Division; Colonel Gary T. Settle, Superintendent of Virginia State Police; and Colonel Jeffrey W. Faries, Chief of Colonial Heights Police, made the announcement after sentencing by Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kenneth R. Simon, Jr. and Michael Gill prosecuted the case.

This case is being prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) Program, the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:20-cr-133.

Updated August 27, 2021

Project Safe Neighborhoods