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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Maryland

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Baltimore Robber Exiled to 20 Years in Prison

Federal Jury Convicts Co-Defendant of Four Armed Commercial Robberies

Baltimore, Maryland – U.S. District Judge George L. Russell III sentenced Sharmaine Christopher Diggs, age 35, of Baltimore, today to 20 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release for robbery, and two counts of using and brandishing a firearm during a robbery.  Judge Russell also entered an order that Diggs pay restitution of $19,000.

Late yesterday, following a six day trial, a federal jury convicted Diggs’ co-defendant Paul Chance, age 28, of Baltimore, Maryland, of conspiring to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, four counts of possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of robbery, and being a felon in possession of a firearm.

The sentence and conviction were announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod J. Rosenstein; Special Agent in Charge Stephen E. Vogt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; Chief James W. Johnson of the Baltimore County Police Department; Baltimore County State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger; Baltimore City State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby; Baltimore Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts;  Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare; and Anne Arundel County Police Chief Tim Altomare.

According to Diggs’ plea agreement, on March 29, 2013, Diggs and Chance arrived at the Ashland Café on York Road in Cockeysville, Maryland.  Both brandished semi-automatic handguns at the owner, who they forced inside his business and bound his hands with duct tape.  They threatened to shoot the owner if he did not provide money, and pistol-whipped him.  The defendants took $4,000 and a .45 caliber weapon that was in the kitchen safe, and another $15,000 from a downstairs safe.  The robbers then forced the owner into the walk-in freezer, and left.

On May 3, 2013, Diggs and another co-conspirator came back to rob the café a second time.  Diggs wore a mask and carried a duffle bag and a handgun.  The café’s employees called the police. The robbers’ vehicle was stopped a short distance away.  Diggs fled, but was located an hour later in the woods.  Detectives executed a search warrant and recovered the duffle bag containing a ski mask, duct tape and the handgun and ammunition that was stolen in the first robbery.

According to trial testimony, Chance, armed with a firearm, also robbed the following businesses: Pizza Hut on Annapolis Road in Severn, Maryland on April 7, 2013; the Hobbit Liquor Store on Bowleys Lane in Baltimore on April 26, 2013; and attempted to rob the Olive Garden on Perry Hall Boulevard in Baltimore on April 29, 2013.  The jury also found that on April 19, 2013, Chance possessed a semi-automatic rifle and a pump action shotgun.  Because of a prior felony conviction, Chance was prohibited from possessing a firearm.

Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing for Paul Chance on August 24, 2015, and he faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 82 years in prison.

United States Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein commended the FBI, Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County Police Departments and Baltimore City, Baltimore County and Anne Arundel County State’s Attorney’s Offices for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Rosenstein thanked Assistant United States Attorneys Bonnie S. Greenberg and Patricia C. McLane, who prosecuted the case.

Project Safe Neighborhoods
Updated May 14, 2015