Eight Head To Federal Prison For Violent Robberies Of Area Banks
Sentences Range from 60 to 525 months in Prison
HOUSTON – Eight men have been ordered to prison on charges related to the armed bank robberies of several area financial institutions, including one involving the shooting of an off-duty Harris County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) sergeant, announced United States Attorney Kenneth Magidson.
Shelton McGowen, 24, opted to plead guilty before trial was set to begin on Tuesday, May 28, 2013. During jury selection the next day, seven more entered guilty pleas – Derrick Williams, 28, Marcus Rosemond Tarpley, 32, Reginald Mosley, 37, Joel Keon Jackson, 33, Hakim Ibn Ahmad, 31, Alonzo Horace Harris, 37, and Patrick Wayne Simmons, 29. The final two – Calvin Wesley Gray, 34, pleaded guilty the morning of opening statements, while Dwayne Holmes, 34, entered his guilty plea following the government’s opening remarks and with a witness about to take the stand.
Today, U.S. District Judge David Hittner sentenced Mosley, identified as the shooter of the off-duty officer, to a total term of 525 months in prison. He was convicted of conspiracy, three counts of bank robbery and discharging a firearm during commission of a violent crime. Simmons, also convicted on the same five counts as Mosely, was ordered to serve a 480-month term of imprisonment. Tarpley and Ahmad, both convicted of conspiracy as well as three counts of bank robbery and brandishing a firearm during commission of a violent crime, were sentenced to respective terms of 480 and 444 months in prison, while Gray, convicted of conspiracy and two counts of bank robbery will serve 300 months. McGowen, Jackson and Williams were each convicted of one count of conspiracy, and will serve 60 months in federal prison. The sentencings of Holmes and Harris were continued to November.
At the hearing today, additional evidence and testimony was presented including statements from the wounded officer and another victim. The officer commented upon his actions and that he would not change anything he did that day. He testified that he saw that something was going to happen and that it was his obligation as a law enforcement officer to step up and act. He further noted the effect the shooting has had on him, his family and well as the sheriff and his family.
An 11th defendant, Anthony Demonde Nowlin, 24, had previously pleaded guilty earlier this year to bank robbery and conspiracy to interfere with commerce through bank robbery. He is set for sentencing on Monday.
The defendants were part of a sophisticated criminal organization that planned and executed violent takeover style bank robberies of banks inside grocery stores. The conspiracy began on May 4, 2007, and ended with the arrest of some of the men on Sept. 16, 2011.
According to court records, the defendants would “case” banks and credit unions that were located in grocery stores, using force, violence and intimidation to rob them. During the robberies, which were committed on weekday mornings between 9:00 a.m. and noon, the defendants wore dark clothing, gloves, material over their faces and were armed with semi-automatic pistols, shotguns and Uzi style firearms to intimidate the bank employees. The men would also use stolen vehicles during the robberies to elude law enforcement.
During the Aug. 4, 2011, robbery of Wells Fargo Bank in Sugar Land, the robbers shot the off-duty sergeant who was in the bank on personal business.
Tarpley, Nowlin, Ahmad, Mosley, McGowen and Williams were arrested on the morning of Sept. 16, 2011, on Interstate 45 North after several were observed both driving and going in and out of a stolen Dodge Intrepid. Officers later observed McGowen enter the Associated Credit Union for the purpose of casing it for a robbery. Law enforcement officers observed several suspicious vehicles one with paper plates near the Kroger that housed the Associated Credit Union on the day of their Sept. 16 arrest. Due to previous robberies of groceries store banks and credit unions, law enforcement had reason to believe that the defendants were about to commit an armed bank robbery.
Further investigation led to the identification of the additional five defendants involved in the scheme resulting in the federal indictment for multiple bank robberies in the greater Houston area. After the dismantling of this 11-man crew, no further violent takeover style bank robberies occurred inside of bank grocery stores.
All men will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future.
This matter was investigated by the FBI Bank Robbery Task Force which is comprised of personnel from the FBI, Houston Police Department and HCSO with special assistance from the Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office and the Baytown and Pasadena Police Departments. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Suzanne Elmilady and Kebharu H. Smith.