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Press Release

Essex County Man Convicted for Gunpoint Robbery of East Orange Cell Phone Store

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of New Jersey

NEWARK, N.J. – An Essex County, New Jersey, man was convicted today for his role in a January 2021 gunpoint robbery of a cell phone store in East Orange, New Jersey, U.S. Attorney Philip R. Sellinger announced.

Kenneth Graham, 50, of Newark, was convicted of one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. Graham was convicted following a one-week trial before Senior U.S. District Court Judge William J. Martini in Newark federal court. 

According to court documents and the evidence presented at trial: 

On Jan. 18, 2021, Graham was in the cell phone store when he pulled out a gun and pointed it at a store employee. He ordered the employee to place several cell phones from the display case and cash from the register into a bag. Video surveillance footage near the store showed Graham enter a black Nissan Altima after the robbery and drive away. A witness confirmed that Graham was the person entering the Nissan Altima after robbing the store.

Historical cell phone records indicate that Graham’s cellular telephone was in East Orange near the store around the time of the robbery, and photographs on Graham’s cell phone showed Graham wearing a sweatshirt with a distinct logo. In the video surveillance footage from the robbery, Graham wore that same sweatshirt.

The Hobbs Act robbery charge carries a statutory maximum of 20 years in prison. The count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence carries a maximum potential penalty of life in prison and in this case, a mandatory minimum sentence of 25 years in prison because Graham was previously convicted in 2007 in connection with three gunpoint bank robberies in New Jersey. The sentence on this charge must be consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Each count carries a potential $250,000 fine.

U.S. Attorney Sellinger credited special agents and task force officers of the FBI, under the direction of Special Agent in Charge James E. Dennehy in Newark, and members of the East Orange Police Department, under the direction of Chief Phyllis Bindi, with the investigation leading to today’s conviction. 

The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Benjamin Levin and Jennifer S. Kozar of the Criminal Division in Newark.

Updated March 20, 2023

Violent Crime
Firearms Offenses
Press Release Number: 23-066