Two More Plead Guilty to Conspiracy to Lure Robbery Victims with Online Ads for Escorts
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Tom Larson, Acting United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that a Sugar Creek, Mo., woman and an Independence, Mo., man pleaded guilty in federal court today to their roles in a conspiracy to use online escort and massage ads to lure robbery victims.
Nicole L. Covey, 34, of Sugar Creek, and Devon Davis-Aumua, 22, of Independence, pleaded guilty in separate appearances before U.S. Chief District Judge Greg Kays to the robbery conspiracy. Covey also pleaded guilty to five counts of aiding and abetting robberies. Davis-Aumua also pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting a robbery and to being a drug user in possession of a firearm.
Co-defendant Sage E. Harrison, 35, of Independence, pleaded guilty on Tuesday, May 2, 2017, to his role in the robbery conspiracy and to two counts of aiding and abetting robberies.
By pleading guilty today, Covey and Davis-Aumua each admitted they participated in the conspiracy to commit robbery from April 1, 2015, to June 7, 2016. Conspirators used several websites (including craigslist.org, backpage.com and skout.com) to make connections with their victims and arrange meetings at local hotels, residences and apartments. Covey’s photo was used in the online ads. When customers arrived to meet Covey, conspirators would be lying in wait, armed with firearms and weapons that appeared to be firearms, and rob the customers.
Covey also admitted that she aided and abetted in the commission of five specific robberies in October 2015 in Kansas City-North, Independence and North Kansas City. Davis-Aumua admitted that he aided and abetted one of the robberies at an apartment in Kansas City-North on Oct. 8, 2015.
On Oct. 10, 2015, Independence police officers arrested Davis-Aumua in the parking lot of an Independence hotel at approximately 3:33 a.m. Davis-Aumua was in possession of methamphetamine and a stolen Springfield XDS .45-caliber pistol. He was also in possession of the keys to another robbery victim’s truck, which was discovered nearby out of gas. That victim, identified in court documents as “H.G.”, had been robbed by co-conspirators at the same Kansas City-North apartment on Oct. 9, 2015. A co-conspirator forced H.G. to his truck and searched it for further items to steal. This co-conspirator threatened to shoot H.G. if he didn’t produce the title to the vehicle. This co-conspirator forced H.G. to ride in the passenger seat, while the co-conspirator drove H.G.’s vehicle. This co-conspirator again threatened to shoot H.G. if he did not produce the title. While driving at highway speeds, H.G. jumped from the moving vehicle in fear for his life and sustained injuries.
Agents recovered a laptop computer and a notebook from the location of the apartment robbery and discovered information about several e-mail and social media accounts used by conspirators. Records obtained from Facebook revealed multiple communications about the robberies. For example, a Facebook message from one of Covey’s accounts stated, “My man and some of my friends, we drop pockets on backpage clients.” The term “dropping pockets” has been used by several of these individuals and is known to be a reference to conducting a robbery.
According to Backpage.com records, posts were placed in the sections “Body Rubs,” “Escorts,” and “Domination & Fetish” sections, using several different names. The records identified 31 different phone numbers which were posted in the associated ads, and that 126 separate posts were made.
Records obtained from Craigslist related to phone numbers and email addresses used in the robberies revealed 11 related accounts. Those 11 accounts had been used to post 89 ads between Sept. 28, 2015 and Jan. 7, 2016. According to Craigslist records, posts were predominantly placed in the “Casual Encounters” section using approximately 27 different names.
Under federal statutes, Harrison is subject to a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison without parole on each count. Davis-Aumua is subject to a sentence of up to 50 years in federal prison without parole. The maximum statutory sentence is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as the sentencing of the defendant will be determined by the court based on the advisory sentencing guidelines and other statutory factors. A sentencing hearing will be scheduled after the completion of a presentence investigation by the United States Probation Office.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew P. Wolesky. It was investigated by the FBI, and the Independence, Mo., Police Department, with assistance from the Kansas City, Mo., Police Department, the North Kansas City, Mo., Police Department and the Blue Springs, Mo., Police Department.