CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A Virginia man, Jamaa I. Johnson, 36, of Wytheville, was sentenced today to over 19 years in federal prison after being convicted by a federal jury, announced United States Attorney Carol Casto. Johnson was convicted after a nearly three week jury trial in January 2015 for his role in a conspiracy to commit armed home invasions of drug dealers. Johnson and his co-defendant, Darrell Gillespie, were both found guilty of conspiracies to commit armed robbery and to use firearms in crimes of violence, as well as obstruction of justice charges.
The conspiracy involved armed robberies dating back to the fall of 2011 in Pittsburgh. Johnson’s co-defendant, Darrell E. Gillespie, who is still awaiting sentencing, joined by others involved in the conspiracy, traveled to Pittsburgh to rob a drug dealer. After the robbery, the men came back to Charleston to split up marijuana stolen in the robbery. Over the next four months, Johnson, Gillespie, or their co-conspirators, participated in six more robberies in West Virginia and Virginia. All involved firearms, and during a January 18, 2012, robbery in Charleston, the victim was shot in the leg and stabbed.
Johnson was also found guilty of witness tampering for attempting to use his ex-girlfriend to craft a false alibi. His ex-girlfriend testified at trial that Johnson sent her a letter requesting her to “please get this prepared” and “I need you to really remember that trip you took to see me.” He was referring to a fake trip to Richmond, but it was confirmed that trip never happened, and that she drove him instead to Charleston on January 18, 2012, the day of the robbery, so he could destroy evidence.
Gillespie faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years and up to life in federal prison when he is sentenced.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the South Charleston Police Department, and the Charleston Police Department. Assistant United States Attorneys Monica D. Coleman and Meredith George Thomas are in charge of the prosecution. United States District Judge Thomas E. Johnston imposed the sentence and presided over the trial.