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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, October 3, 2019

Woman Sentenced for Helping to Plan Multiple Robberies

RICHMOND, Va. – A Richmond woman was sentenced today to nearly 13 years in prison for aiding and abetting multiple robberies, and aiding and abetting the brandishing of a firearm during one of those robberies. 

According to court documents, Christina Pilgrim, 37, met Ali Cousins, Jr. around the year 2017 when Cousins brought his son to Pilgrim’s daycare center which she operated out of her home. The two entered into a romantic relationship shortly after meeting. Pilgrim was married at the time.  While also operating the daycare center, Pilgrim worked at the Dollar Tree at 8920 Patterson Avenue, Henrico. So, when Cousins began to suffer financial difficulties in 2018, Pilgrim suggested to him that he could rob the Dollar Tree where she worked. She assured him that the business would be easy to rob. Cousins decided to rob the store and relied on information Pilgrim provided, particularly the store employees who would work on a given night and the location of safes and cameras in the store, to carry out the robberies. Additionally, Pilgrim provided Cousins access to a firearm that her husband owned and left in her home which Cousins could use during the robberies.  Cousins would rob the store five times between the months of March and September 2018.

During one robbery which occurred in August 2018, Pilgrim informed Cousins that the store manager to the Dollar Tree would make the nightly bank deposit at a nearby Wells Fargo bank.  Cousins decided that he would rob the store manager as the manager made the deposit, and Pilgrim drove Cousins to the Wells Fargo to wait for the store manager to arrive. Pilgrim watched as the store manager left the Dollar Tree and informed Cousins when the manager was on his way to the bank. When the manager arrived, Cousins completed the robbery and Pilgrim picked Cousins up afterward. 

For the last robbery in September 2018, Pilgrim provided Cousins access to her husband’s vehicle which Cousins used to complete the robbery. Cousins and an accomplice, Bryant Williams, then traveled to the Dollar Tree and entered the store just before closing. Pilgrim, who was working at the store at the time, saw Cousins and Williams arrive and enter the restroom of the store to wait for the right opportunity to complete the robbery. While Cousins and Williams waited, Pilgrim sent text messages to Cousins regarding others in the store being suspicious of them when they came to the store. Soon after that text message, Cousins and Williams completed the robbery and fled the store.  Law enforcement would arrest Cousins the same night and would arrest Williams several months later. 

Cousins pleaded guilty and admitted to having committed the five robberies. Also, Williams, and another accomplice, Anthony Simmons, who Cousins recruited for the first robbery, pleaded guilty to their roles in the individual robberies they performed with Cousins.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is 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.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, David W. Archey, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Richmond Field Office, and Humberto I. Cardounel, Jr., Chief of Henrico County Police Division, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne. Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen E. Anthony prosecuted the case.

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. 3:19-cr-50.

Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Contact: 
Joshua Stueve Director of Public Affairs joshua.stueve@usdoj.gov
Updated October 3, 2019