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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of Virginia

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Richmond Man Convicted Of Attempted Armed Home Invasion Robbery Of Drug Dealer

RICHMOND, Va. – Robert Lee Pernell, 42, of Richmond, Va., was convicted today by a federal jury of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, attempt to interfere with commerce by robbery and use, carry, brandish and discharge a firearm in furtherance of the attempted robbery. 

Neil H. MacBride, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Carl Vasilko, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, made the announcement after the verdict was accepted by United States District Judge Robert E. Payne.Pernell faces a mandatory minimum term of 10 years of incarceration and a maximum penalty of life imprisonment when he is sentenced on July 25, 2013. 

According to the evidence presented at trial, Pernell and another man, both armed with firearms, ambushed a man and woman as they returned home late at night to their Smoketree South residence, in Chesterfield, Virginia.  The couple attempted to flee into the house, but one of the assailants jammed the barrel of a shotgun in the doorway, preventing it from closing.  A struggle ensued just inside the doorway.  The man was pushed out into the yard and one of the assailants shot a firearm at him.  As this was happening, the woman fled for the back of the house and grabbed a pistol from the bedroom.  Pernell, armed with a shotgun, pursued the woman and as he entered the bedroom fired the shotgun he was carrying.  The woman fired the pistol she had grabbed, shooting Pernell in the arm.  Pernell and his accomplice fled the house.  Fearing for her life, the woman hid in the bedroom closet until the Chesterfield County Police arrived.  A subsequent search of the house resulted in the discovery of approximately 116 grams of crack cocaine and over $125,000 in cash that belonged to the residents.  The male victim and another male resident of the house subsequently pleaded guilty to drug trafficking charges.

This case was investigated by the Chesterfield County Police Department and the ATF.  Assistant United States Attorney Olivia L. Norman is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.

A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Virginia at  Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia at or on
Updated March 18, 2015