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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Friday, July 5, 2019

Columbus Men Charged with Internet Cafe Robberies Including One That Resulted in Deaths of Owners

COLUMBUS, Ohio – A federal criminal complaint unsealed today charges Dezhan Townsend, 20, with using a firearm during a crime of violence resulting in death in connection with the robbery of a Columbus internet café in which a husband and wife were murdered. A second man, Desjuan Harris, 24, is charged with robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection with two other internet café robberies.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Todd Wickerham, Special Agent in Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Cincinnati Division, acting Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinlan, and Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney Ron O’Brien announced the charges unsealed today after the defendants appeared in federal court.

According to the complaint, two suspects wearing hoodies entered Players Paradise at 3439 E. Broad Street in Columbus at 4:06 a.m. on January 20, 2019. The two positioned themselves near the office door. One suspect sat at a game as if he was playing it. When a female employee attempted to enter the office, the suspects attacked. The suspects were armed with handguns and immediately confronted an armed security guard. A suspect shot both the male security guard and the female employee, Joseph and Karen Arrington.

Townsend and Harris are charged with robbing Players Paradise on December 10, 2018 and another internet café, Planet Jackpot, at 1245 Alum Creek Drive on January 7, 2019.

Columbus SWAT officers arrested Townsend and Harris on Wednesday, July 3. The charges were unsealed today after the defendants appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Chelsey M. Vascura, who ordered them held without bond.

“We will present the evidence gathered so far to a federal grand jury for a possible indictment against the defendants,” Glassman said. “If convicted, each man faces a possible life sentence for their crimes. The investigation is continuing.”

The criminal complaint charges Townsend with three counts of interfering with interstate commerce by robbery (Hobbs Act), three counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of use of a firearm during the commission of a crime of violence. Harris is charged with two counts of violating the Hobbs Act and one count of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by the FBI and Columbus Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys David M. DeVillers and Kevin Kelley, and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney James Lowe with the Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, who are representing the United States.

A complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Violent Crime
Updated July 5, 2019