Leader of Violent Robbery Crew Sentenced to 57 Years for Targeting Suburban Cell Phone Stores
CHICAGO — A federal judge today sentenced a Park Forest man to 57 years in prison for leading a crew of armed robbers that targeted cell phone stores in the Chicago suburbs.
ERIC CURTIS recruited several individuals to join the crew and armed them with firearms to carry out the robberies. The crew stole hundreds of cell phones while terrorizing store employees and customers at gunpoint. After the robberies, Curtis helped to sell the phones and divide the profits among the thieves.
The robberies occurred in 2013 in cell phone stores in Addison, Norridge, Deerfield and Woodridge.
A jury last year convicted Curtis, 32, on one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm, and three counts of using a firearm in a crime of violence. U.S. District Judge Charles P. Kocoras imposed the sentence in federal court in Chicago.
The sentence was announced by Joel R. Levin, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Michael J. Anderson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Police departments from Chicago, Woodridge, Deerfield, Joliet, Norridge, Addison and East Peoria provided substantial assistance in the investigation.
“The defendant’s crew terrorized dozens of victims during their crime spree and these victims will likely suffer from the trauma the defendant and his crew caused them for at least as long as any sentence this Court imposes on the defendant,” Assistant U.S. Attorneys Christopher V. Parente and Allison A. Ray argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum. “The defendant’s repeated reckless actions during this crime spree endangered the lives of many everyday citizens who were out on a shopping trip, or just showing up for work trying to earn an honest living.”
Evidence at trial revealed that Curtis’ crew conducted takeover-style robberies. Crew members would enter a store, brandish firearms and order employees and customers to the back of the store at gunpoint. The robbers would take as many cell phones as they could stuff into their duffel bags.
Seven other members of the crew previously pleaded guilty. The prior convictions include another top leader, ERIC ROGERS of Hazel Crest. Rogers stated in a plea agreement that the crew also robbed cell phone stores in Joliet and downstate East Peoria, as well as a store in La Porte, Ind. Eric Rogers is awaiting sentencing.