Craigslist Seller Sentenced for Five Armed Robberies
ATLANTA - Lavunte Collins has been sentenced on five counts of armed robbery and one count of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence in connection with his robbery of a string of victims that he lured through Craigslist.
“This case highlights the dangers of meeting strangers for commercial transactions of any kind,” said U.S. Attorney John A. Horn. “The victims only expected to purchase electronic devices, but may now suffer from the trauma of these encounters for years. To avoid becoming a victim of these crimes, we urge members of the public to arrange meetings with online vendors in public places, such as local police departments.”
“Today’s sentence is another reminder that ATF and our law enforcement partners will hold individuals accountable for any criminal behavior, especially that which threatens the safety of innocent civilians,” said ATF Assistant Special Agent in Charge John Schmidt.
According to U.S. Attorney Horn, the charges, and other information presented in court: Between May 6, 2013, and May 20, 2013, Collins robbed five sets of victims of their phones, wallets, and cash after arranging to meet the victims through Craigslist. In each case the victims arranged to meet Collins to buy an iPhone and recounted a similar story to law enforcement. Specifically, they contacted a Craigslist vendor offering iPhones and other devices for sale. The vendor directed the victims to meet at a residence and upon their arrival at the agreed upon location, Collins entered, or attempted to enter, the victims’ car. Collins then robbed the victims at gunpoint and fled on foot.
All five robberies also occurred within a two-mile radius of Collins’ residence in Stone Mountain, Georgia. During one of the incidents, the buyer-victim’s wife and young child were inside the car as the robbery happened, increasing the victims’ trauma.
Lavunte Collins, 23, of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was sentenced by U.S. District Chief Judge Thomas W. Thrash Jr., to 13 years and six months in prison to be followed by five years of supervised release, and ordered him to pay restitution to the victims. The defendant was convicted on these charges on May 25, 2016, after he pleaded guilty. Collins is currently serving a five-year state sentence for an unrelated robbery.
The case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) with the assistance of the DeKalb County Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica C. Morris and Kim Dammers prosecuted the case.
For further information please contact the U.S. Attorney’s Public Affairs Office at USAGAN.PressEmails@usdoj.gov or (404) 581-6016. The Internet address for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia is http://www.justice.gov/usao-ndga.