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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Princess Anne Man Convicted after Federal Trial for Brandishing a Firearm During and in Furtherance of the Armed Robbery of an Armored Vehicle In Salisbury, Maryland

Co-defendants from New York and North Carolina Previously Pleaded Guilty to the Robbery

Baltimore, Maryland – A federal jury today convicted Ryan Shevin Smith, age 39, of Princess Anne, Maryland, for brandishing a firearm during and in furtherance of a crime of violence, specifically, the robbery of an armored vehicle in Salisbury, Maryland on January 22, 2018.  Smith had previously pleaded guilty to conspiring to commit the robbery and to participating in the robbery.

The guilty verdict was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Acting Special Agent in Charge Jennifer L. Moore of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Salisbury Police Chief Barbara Duncan.

According to the evidence presented at his two-day trial and court documents, at approximately 7:15 a.m. on January 22, 2018, Smith and his co-defendants, Michael Watts and Orneth South, approached the driver of the armored vehicle as he was removing cash cassettes from an ATM machine at a credit union on Mt. Hebron Road in Salisbury, Maryland.  Co-defendant Michael Watts placed a .40-caliber handgun to the driver’s head and disarmed him of his service weapon.  Watts testified that he got the .40-caliber handgun from Smith, which was named “Big Nasty,” and that Smith took the gun back after the robbery.  Watts then grabbed the driver by the hair and order him to open the door of the armored vehicle.  After the driver opened the door, Smith and South removed several bags of money from the vehicle, as well as ATM cassettes filled with cash.  Watts then forced the driver into the vehicle, where he used zip ties to secure the driver’s hands.  The robbers then fled with the money, stealing a total of $1,324,288.  The robbers went to Smith’s residence in nearby Princess Anne and divided the stolen money.  South and Watts then left and headed south, toward North Carolina.

On April 20, 2018, Orneth South, age 49, of Charlotte, North Carolina, was arrested on a warrant issued as a result of the robbery, and pleaded guilty to his role in the armored car robbery in Maryland, as well as a robbery in North Carolina.  On January 31, 2019, co-defendant Michael Watts, a/k/a “Turtle,” age 42, of Brooklyn, New York, pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery.  Watts was arrested on May 18, 2018, in Queens, New York, and at the time of his arrest, was wearing approximately $70,000 in jewelry, including a custom turtle pendant, which was purchased with the proceeds of the armored vehicle robbery.  Watts also admitted using his portion of the stolen money to purchase a Mercedes S430 automobile, clothes, two tombstones, and to pay off bills and rent.

The government will be seeking restitution in the full amount of the victim’s loss, which is at least $1,324,288.

Judge Richard D. Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Smith on June 17, 2019, at 3:00 p.m.  Judge Bennett has scheduled sentencing for Watts on May 1, 2019 and for South on May 8, 2019, both at 3:00 p.m.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone.  Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) 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.

United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI and the Salisbury Police Department for their work in the investigation.  Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys P. Michael Cunningham and Paul A. Riley, who are prosecuting the case.

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Project Safe Neighborhoods
Violent Crime
Component(s): 
Contact: 
Marcia Murphy (410) 209-4854
Updated March 13, 2019