Tampa Men Plead Guilty To Armed Robberies Involving Grenades
Tampa, Florida - Acting United States Attorney A. Lee Bentley, III announces that Gabriel James Brown, Jr. (33, Tampa) pleaded guilty last week to two counts of carrying, using and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. Brown faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 32 years in federal prison, and a maximum of life imprisonment. Brown’s co-defendant, Robert A. McChristian (44, Tampa) pleaded guilty on June 27, 2013, to a single count of carrying, using, brandishing and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a violent crime. McChristian faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison and a maximum of life imprisonment.
According to the Brown’s plea agreement, from December 2012 through February 6, 2013, Brown and McChristian committed a series of armed robberies of businesses in the Tampa area. Brown was arrested on February 6, 2013. On February 5, 2013, acting along, Brown robbed a T.D. Bank in Auburndale of $19,127. He robbed the bank at gun-point and used a smoke grenade while fleeing from the bank to obscure his escape. Brown also pleaded guilty to a January 18, 2013, robbery of a Metro PCS store during which he took $631 in cash and a total of 29 cell phones and accessories valued at approximately $2,332.
According to McChristian’s plea agreement, on December 20, 2012, McChristian used a military grade flash bang grenade and a gun provided by Brown to rob a Papa John’s Pizza restaurant in Tampa. McChristian threw the flash bang grenade into the store. He then ran in and robbed the store at gunpoint of approximately $300. Prior to the restaurant robbery, Brown and McChristian arranged to meet via text message. In the text messages, McChristian arranged to meet Brown to get the gun and the flash bang grenade so that McChristian could “shake the spot myself.” McChristian was caught, in part, based on the text messages recovered by law enforcement.
This case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Polk County Sheriff's Office, the Auburndale Police Department, the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, and the Tampa Police Department. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Mark E. Bini.