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Press Release

Indictments Filed In Cleveland Heights Bank Robbery Cases

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of Ohio

Three separate indictments were filed charging five men for their roles in two bank robberies in Cleveland Heights late last year, said Steven M. Dettelbach, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, and Stephen D. Anthony, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Lavontrae Melvin Durden, 19, of Cleveland, and Nathaniel Antoine Wright, 18, of Cleveland Heights, were indicted on charges of armed bank robbery and brandishing a firearm for the Nov. 22nd robbery of the Ohio Savings Bank located at 2066 Lee Road.

In a separate indictment, Lovell L. Briggs, 18, of Cleveland, was charged with conspiracy to commit armed bank robbery, aiding and abetting armed bank robbery and aiding and abetting brandishing a firearm for his role in the Nov. 22nd robbery of the Ohio Savings Bank located at 2066 Lee Road.

In a separate indictment, Rodney E. Johnson, 21, and Nautica Merritt, 20, both of Cleveland, were charged with armed bank robbery for the Dec. 7th robbery of the Fifth Third Bank at 12401 Cedar Road. Johnson faces an additional charge of brandishing a firearm.

“The citizens of Cleveland Heights are safer with this group locked up,” Dettelbach said.

“These five individuals put everyday citizens in danger with their aggressive and violent actions,” Anthony said. “This crew is off our streets through the collaborative efforts of the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force and the Cleveland Heights Police Department. The investigation continues to determine the full extent of their criminal activity.”

Cleveland Heights Police Chief Jeff Robertson said: “This case is the result of great collaboration between the Cleveland Heights Police Department, the FBI and the Cleveland Police Department in apprehending these violent individuals.”

These cases are being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Justin Seabury Gould and Kelly L. Galvin following investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Cleveland Heights Police Department, with assistance from the Cleveland Division of Police and the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office.

If convicted, the defendant’s sentence will be determined by the Court after review of factors unique to this case, including the defendant’s prior criminal record, if any, the defendant’s role in the offense and the characteristics of the violation.  In all cases, the sentence will not exceed the statutory maximum and in most cases it will be less than the maximum.

An indictment is only a charge and is not evidence of guilt.  A defendant is entitled to a fair trial in which it will be the government's burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

Updated March 12, 2015