Jewelry Thieves Convicted in $4 Million Armed, Multistate Conspiracy
PANAMA CITY, FLORIDA – Yesterday evening, a federal jury convicted Lewis Jones III, 36, Larry Bernard Gilmore, 43, and Michael Bernard Gilmore, 46, all of Atlanta, GA, of conspiracy, interfering with commerce by robbery, and using a firearm during a crime of violence. Co-conspirator Abigail Lee Kemp, 25, of Smyrna, GA, pled guilty on July 11. The verdicts and guilty plea were announced by Christopher P. Canova, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Florida.
Between April 2015 and January 2016, the conspirators committed armed robberies of six jewelry stores in Panama City Beach, Florida; Woodstock and Dawsonville, Georgia; Bluffton, South Carolina; Sevierville, Tennessee; and Mebane, North Carolina. More than $4 million of jewelry was stolen during the time frame of the conspiracy.
After the April 2015 robbery, Jones and the Gilmores began training Kemp to rob the jewelry stores on her own. The training took place at the Gilmore's window tint shop in Atlanta, Georgia. Jones and the Gilmores reviewed jewelry store layouts with Kemp and taught her how to handle a gun, secure employees with zip ties, and what merchandise to steal. They also gave Kemp various code words, decided her clothes and disguises, and then purchased supplies for her. Jones and the Gilmores always selected the dates and locations of the jewelry stores to be robbed.
Thereafter, Kemp would enter an outlet mall jewelry store at approximately the same time of day, brandish a firearm, order the employees to the back of the store, and force them to lie face down while she zip tied their hands behind their backs. Hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of jewelry was then removed from the jewelry display cases. Kemp would use an earpiece to communicate with her conspirators while Jones and the Gilmores conducted surveillance and security outside.
In December 2015, a jewelry store manager believed Kemp matched the description of the white female who was previously linked to the armed robberies of various jewelry stores in the southeast. The store manager requested that another employee contact the police. The conspirators decided to call off the robbery and left the store. Five days later, they robbed the Mebane, North Carolina, jewelry store.
For each of the conspiracy and robbery charges, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison. For each of the firearm charges, the defendants face a consecutive term of imprisonment of at least seven years and up to life on the first conviction, and a consecutive term of imprisonment of at least 25 years and up to life on the second conviction. The sentencing hearings are scheduled for October 12, 2016, at 9:00 a.m. (Kemp) and 2:00 p.m. (Jones and the Gilmores) at the United States Courthouse in Panama City, Florida.
This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Panama City Beach Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Kathryn D. Risinger and Michael J. Frank are prosecuting the case.
The United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Florida is one of 94 offices that serve as the nation’s principal litigators under the direction of the Attorney General. To access available public court documents online, please visit the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida website. For more information about the United States Attorney’s Office, Northern District of Florida, visit http://www.justice.gov/usao/fln/index.html.
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