OAKLAND – George Branch was sentenced today to 204 months in prison, for conspiring to possess with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine; conspiring to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce; and possessing a firearm during and in relation to and in furtherance of a crime of violence and drug trafficking crime, United States Attorney Melinda Haag and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Riehl announced.
Mr. Branch, 36, of Oakland, pleaded guilty to all three charges on July 10, 2013. During his change of plea hearing, evidence showed that Mr. Branch, and two co-conspirators, planned to rob a stash house containing over 5 kilograms of cocaine using loaded firearms. Evidence further showed that on several occasions Mr. Branch met with an undercover agent from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to discuss the plans for the upcoming armed robbery.
“This sentence should serve to deter those who would seek to use firearms during robberies in Oakland or elsewhere. We thank the ATF and the Oakland Police Department for their investigation and dedication to battling gun violence through Operation Gideon," said U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag.
“Armed robbery crews prey on the neighborhoods in which they operate, and they instill fear through intimidation and violence,” said Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Special Agent in Charge Joseph M. Riehl. “ATF’s priority is to combat violent criminals and by partnering with the Oakland Police Department we are successfully targeting, disarming, and removing them from our communities.”
The sentence was handed down by The Honorable Phyllis J. Hamilton, U.S. District Court Judge in Oakland. Judge Hamilton also sentenced the defendant to a ten-year period of supervised release. The defendant is already in custody and will begin serving the sentence immediately.
Natalie Lee and William Frentzen are the Assistant U.S. Attorneys who prosecuted the case with the assistance of Daniel Charlier-Smith.
(Branch indictment )