GREENSBORO – A North Carolina man was sentenced today to 19 years in prison, after pleading guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit robbery and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm by an armed career criminal, announced United States Attorney Sandra J. Hairston of the Middle District of North Carolina (MDNC).
DEVONTE DAQUAN COZART, age 28, of Durham, North Carolina, was sentenced to a 228-month term of imprisonment by the Honorable Catherine C. Eagles, United States District Judge in the United States District Court for the MDNC. He pleaded guilty on December 8, 2022, to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1951(a), and two counts of felon in possession of a firearm by an armed career criminal, a violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 922(g)(1) and 924(e). COZART also agreed to forfeit two handguns.
A codefendant, Tori Demarco Bumpers, pleaded guilty on September 8, 2022, to the same statutory violations. Bumpers’ sentencing is scheduled for August 4, 2023, in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.
According to court records, COZART, a member of the Eight Trey Gangster Crips street gang, and Bumpers left the area of Glenbrook Drive on March 14, 2022, just before dark in COZART’s gray Honda Accord. At approximately 9:30 p.m. that night, Bumpers robbed a vape shop located at West Club Boulevard in Durham at gunpoint, taking cash, cigarettes, a “Cookies” brand backpack, and other items. Bumpers left the store and fled on foot with a second man. At approximately 9:50 p.m., two men wearing dark clothing and masks robbed an individual waiting for a ride to work (Victim-1). After one of the men, whose height and hair was consistent with COZART’s, got in Victim-1’s face and pointed a gun at him, the assailants took cash, electronics, and an Oakley backpack from Victim-1. At approximately 10:10 p.m., Bumpers aimed a gun at the clerk of a convenience store on Fayetteville Road in Durham and demanded cash and cigarettes. After taking the items, he left the store and ran across the parking lot to a waiting car. Around 10:30 p.m. Durham Police Department officers stopped COZART’s gray Honda Accord on East Club Boulevard. COZART was driving, and Bumpers was in the front passenger seat. A black mask was resting between COZART’s right leg and the center console. Officers removed the men from the car and placed them in handcuffs. Upon searching the vehicle, officers recovered items from each of the above-described robberies and a loaded .45 handgun.
On May 12, 2022, investigators executing a warrant to arrest COZART on federal charges stemming from the March 14, 2022, robberies searched the Durham residence where he was located and found a 9mm handgun. Subsequent investigation identified a fingerprint on the gun’s magazine as having been made by COZART’s right thumb.
The previous year, on April 8, 2022, investigators encountered COZART in a Durham apartment near a .357 magnum revolver. COZART admitted that the gun belonged to him.
At the time of these offenses, COZART had been previously convicted of Common Law Robbery and Breaking and Entering (offense date May 7, 2014); Common Law Robbery and Conspiracy to Commit Common Law Robbery (offense date March 24, 2015); Common Law Robbery (offense date February 5, 2015); Common Law Robbery and Conspiracy to Commit Common Law Robbery (offense date May 1, 2018); and Attempted Common Law Robbery (offense date April 28, 2018). In connection with these offenses COZART was sentenced to multiple terms of imprisonment exceeding one year. Thus, at the time of the offenses, COZART was legally barred from possessing a firearm due to his status as a felon.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Raleigh-Durham Safe Streets Task Force (SSTF), the Durham Police Department, and the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. The lead investigator was an FBI Task Force Officer from the Durham County Sheriff’s Office. The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Eric Iverson.
Since 1992, the FBI's Safe Streets Violent Crime Initiative has successfully aligned FBI Agents, state and local law enforcement investigators, and federal and state prosecutors onto SSTFs to reduce violent crime. This nationwide initiative brings resources together in a "force multiplier concept" and utilizes the expertise of each agency. SSTFs focus primarily upon street gang and drug-related violence through sustained, proactive, coordinated investigations to obtain prosecutions on violations such as racketeering, drug conspiracy, and firearms violations.