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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 30, 2018

Oakland Man Sentenced To Fifteen Years In Prison For His Role In Robbery Crew Targeting Bay Area Businesses

Defendant is the Fourth Member of Robbery Crew Convicted Following Three Month Robbery Spree

OAKLAND – Archie Ned Williams was sentenced to 15 years in prison for his role in multiple armed robberies committed in San Francisco and Berkeley in 2016, announced United States Attorney Alex G. Tse and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett.  The sentence was handed down today by the Honorable Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers, U.S. District Judge.

Williams, 46, of Oakland, pleaded guilty on May 16, 2018, to conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce (“Hobbs Act robbery”), as well as two Hobbs Act robbery counts and one count of brandishing a firearm during a robbery.  According to the plea agreement, Williams admitted that on April 7, 2016, he and three other men agreed to commit two robberies on the same night.  To commit the first robbery, the four men travelled from Oakland to San Francisco looking for a place to rob, eventually deciding to rob a pizzeria.  Two members of the crew went into the pizzeria armed with pistols, while the other two remained in the getaway car acting as lookouts.  Once inside, one robber stopped an employee from leaving and forced him to wait inside against a wall during the robbery.  The other robber pointed his pistol at the cashier and stole cash from him.  The two robbers then left the restaurant and returned to the getaway vehicle, and all four men drove back to the East Bay.  Within an hour, the robbery crew robbed another restaurant, this time an Ethiopian restaurant in Berkeley.  Once again, two members of the crew entered the restaurant armed with pistols, while Williams and the fourth member waited in the getaway car.  The two robbers who entered the restaurant pointed their guns at two female victims standing by the cash register and demanded cash.  One robber then entered the kitchen area, engaged in a struggle with an employee, and fired a round from his pistol at the employee.  The employee was not struck by the bullet.  The two robbers then fled the restaurant with the stolen cash, returned to the getaway vehicle, and all four men drove off.  

A federal grand jury indicted Williams on February 9, 2017.  He was charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and two Hobbs Act robberies, all in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c).  He pleaded guilty to all counts.

Williams’s codefendants were arrested on April 21, 2016, while attempting to rob a bar in San Francisco, which they had previously robbed on two occasions.  All three men have pleaded guilty to their respective roles in the crimes.  Judge Gonzalez Rogers has sentenced three of the four defendants as follows: 
 

DEFENDANT

CONVICTIONS

SENTENCE

Shawan Spragans

  • Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Hobbs Act Robbery (three counts) – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence – 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon – 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)

23 years

Merl Simpson

  • Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Attempted Hobbs Act Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Hobbs Act Robbery (three counts) – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence – 18 U.S.C. § 924(c); and
  • Possession of a firearm by a felon – 18 U.S.C. § 922(g)(1)

20 years

Archie Williams

  • Conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a);
  • Hobbs Act Robbery (two counts) – 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a); and
  • Brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence – 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)

15 years

 

In addition to the prison term, Judge Gonzalez Rogers also sentenced the defendant to a 5-year period of supervised release, which will begin upon Williams’ release from prison.  The defendant has been in federal custody since May 2017, and he will begin serving his federal sentence at the conclusion of a previously-imposed unrelated state prison sentence.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys William Gullotta and Vanessa Baehr-Jones are prosecuting the case with the assistance of Michelle Alter, Noble Hughes, Katie Turner, and Vanessa Vargas.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Berkeley Police Department, San Francisco Police Department, and San Leandro Police Department.

Updated September 4, 2018