Cedar Rapids Felon Sentenced to Twenty Years in Federal Prison after Attempting to Extort Internet Domain Name in an Armed Home Invasion
A federal felon who entered a Cedar Rapids home armed with a stolen firearm and pistol-whipped and Tased its owner was sentenced today to twenty years in prison in federal court in Cedar Rapids. Sherman Hopkins, Jr., age 43, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a December 2017 guilty plea to one count of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951. The case is the first Hobbs Act Extortion prosecution in the district involving the attempt to steal an Internet domain name.
At the plea hearing and in a plea agreement, Hopkins admitted that on June 21, 2017, he entered the victim’s home and assaulted the victim in an attempt to obtain the victim’s property, specifically, the Internet domain “doitforstate.com.” Hopkins carried and brandished a Smith & Wesson 9mm pistol, which was stolen from Michigan in 2014. Hopkins was a convicted felon as the result of a 2006 conviction for perjury in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Iowa.
Information from the plea agreement and court hearings showed that on June 21, 2017, Hopkins entered the victim’s home in Cedar Rapids. Hopkins was carrying a cellular telephone and the gun and was wearing a hat, pantyhose on his head, and dark sunglasses on his face.
The victim was upstairs and heard Hopkins enter the home. From the top of a staircase, the victim saw Hopkins with the gun on the first floor. Hopkins shouted at the victim, who then ran into an upstairs bedroom and shut the door, leaning up against the door to stop Hopkins from entering. Hopkins went upstairs and kicked the door open.
Hopkins grabbed the victim by the arm and demanded to know where he kept his computer. When the victim told Hopkins that he kept his computer in his home office, Hopkins forcibly moved the victim to the office. Hopkins ordered the victim to turn on his computer and connect to the Internet. Hopkins pulled out a piece of paper from his pocket, which contained a series of directions on how to change an Internet domain name from one GoDaddy account to another GoDaddy account. Hopkins put the firearm against the victim’s head and ordered him to follow the directions on the piece of paper. Hopkins also took the victim’s cell phone and threw it so that he could not call for help.
The victim asked Hopkins for a mailing address and phone number, because GoDaddy required the transferee’s mailing address and phone number to effectuate the change of ownership of the domain name. Hopkins then pistol whipped the victim several times in the victim’s head. Hopkins also pulled out a Taser and “Tased” the victim several times in his left arm, back, and neck.
Hopkins became more violent, hitting the victim in the head and berated the victim. Hopkins then cocked the gun. Fearing for his life, the victim quickly turned to move the gun away from his head. The victim then managed to gain control of the gun, but during the struggle, he was shot in the leg. The victim shot Hopkins multiple times in his chest. He then contacted law enforcement.
Hopkins is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Tim Vavricek and Dan Tvedt and was investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department.
Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl.
The case file number is 17-CR-59-LRR.
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