Dorchester Man Resentenced for Role in Plot to Rob Armored Car Depot
BOSTON – A Dorchester man was resentenced today in federal court for his role in a 1999 conspiracy to rob an armored car depot in Easton, Mass.
David Turner, 52, was resentenced by U.S. District Court Judge Richard G. Stearns to time served and three years of supervised release. The government recommended 310 months.
Turner was convicted by a federal jury in 2001 of conspiring to rob the Loomis-Fargo armored car depot; attempting to rob the Loomis-Fargo depot; possessing a grenade in furtherance of a crime of violence – the conspiracy to rob the facility; possessing other firearms in furtherance of the robbery conspiracy; and two counts of being a felon in possession of firearms. Turner had been in custody since February 7, 1999.
At the time these crimes were committed, possession of a grenade in furtherance of a crime of violence required a sentence of 30 years, which had to run consecutively to any other sentence imposed in the case. In 2003 Judge Stearns sentenced Turner to 460 months in prison, calculated as follows: 100 months for the robbery conspiracy, attempted robbery, and felon-in-possession counts; 360 months for possessing the grenade in furtherance of a crime of violence; and 60 months for possessing the other firearms in furtherance of a crime of violence. The sentences of 360 months and 60 months were to run concurrently with one another but consecutive to the sentence for the other convictions. The First Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed Turner’s conviction and sentence in 2007.
In June 2019 the Supreme Court held part of the relevant definition of “crime of violence” to be unconstitutional, and consequently conspiracy to commit a crime of violence no longer qualifies as a crime of violence. Accordingly, at today’s resentencing Judge Stearns vacated these convictions and resentenced Turner based on the remaining counts.
Evidence at the 2001 trial showed that in early 1999 Turner joined a plot to rob the Loomis-Fargo armored car depot of $30-50 million. The plot included Turner, Stephen Rossetti, Carmelo Merlino, William Merlino, and a man who, unbeknownst to the others, was cooperating with the FBI. The cooperator told the others that he had an insider at the armored car depot who would help them commit the robbery. The plan was for Rossetti to provide firearms, a grenade, an assault rifle, and other firearms, as well as bullet-proof vests, walkie-talkies, police scanners and other hardware for use in the robbery. The day of the robbery the insider would help the robbers gain access to the facility and the cooperator would walk the insider back into the facility with a gun to his head; Turner and Rossetti would follow them in wearing bullet-proof vests armed with an assault rifle and grenade; Turner and Rossetti would subdue and restrain the other guard, who was not privy to the plan; and the robbers would then load a Loomis-Fargo truck with cash and drive to Carmelo Merlino’s place of employment, TRC Auto Electric in Dorchester (TRC). Turner announced at a meeting the night before the robbery was to take place that if they were pursued by law enforcement along the way, they would get out and “have it out” with the police.
The robbery was planned for Feb. 7, 1999 and the participants were to meet early in the morning at TRC. Carmelo Merlino was arrested when he arrived and William Merlino was arrested a short time later. Turner met Rossetti in a parking lot in Quincy and they drove past, but did not stop at, TRC. They returned to the Quincy parking lot and transferred items from Rossetti’s car to Turner’s vehicle and then drove in Rossetti’s car back to the neighborhood of TRC, where they were apprehended. A search of Turner’s vehicle in Quincy led to the recovery of three duffel bags that contained, among other things, five handguns; an assault rifle; ammunition and magazines for the firearms; bullet-proof vests; walkie-talkies; police scanners; and a live military fragmentation grenade.
At today’s hearing, the government recommended that Turner be sentenced to 310 months. The government argued that the sentencing guidelines do not adequately capture the seriousness of the offense because the guidelines do not take into account the number of firearms the robbers planned to use, the fact that they had a grenade that they planned to employ if necessary, or the fact that they intended to engage in a violent confrontation with the police if confronted.