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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – Antonio Donte Smith, 30, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 147 months in prison today in connection with the 2012 robbery of a pharmacy and related firearms violations, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina. Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney also ordered Smith to serve five years under court supervision.
Wayne L. Dixie, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division and Chief Rob Merchant of the Pineville Police Department (PPD) join U.S. Attorney Tompkins in making today’s announcement.
In July 2013, a federal jury convicted Smith of Hobbs Act robbery, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon in connection with the September 2012 armed robbery of a pharmacy located in Pineville, N.C. According to filed documents, evidence presented at trial, and today’s sentencing hearing, Smith entered the pharmacy wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and a cut-off black tee-shirt sleeve across his face, and was carrying a Ruger .45 caliber pistol. Court records show that Smith pointed the firearm at the store clerk and demanded money from the cash register, to which the cashier complied. Court records indicate that while Smith was taking the money from the register Smith noticed a customer, pointed his firearm at the customer, ordered the customer to get on his knees and robbed the customer of his wallet. According to court records, Smith then forced the store manager to give him all the money kept in the store’s safe. At trial, witnesses testified that Smith pointed his gun at the store manager and began to count down from ten while the store manager tried to open the safe.
Court records indicate that Smith fled the store, entered a vehicle and proceeded to lead law enforcement officers on a high speed chase. Eventually Smith abandoned the car and fled on foot into a wooded area where he dropped the firearm and some of his clothing. According to court records, police officers, assisted by a K-9 unit, found and arrested Smith who was hiding in a nearby apartment complex. In the area where Smith was apprehended, officers located money and a receipt that belonged to the pharmacy customer Smith had robbed earlier. At trial, Smith claimed that it was his brother who had robbed the pharmacy.
In handing down today’s sentence, Judge Whitney stated that “Smith is a very serious recidivist with regard to violent armed crimes.” He also noted that Smith committed five armed robberies and planned out violent crimes and that he terrified the employees of the pharmacy he robbed.
In 2002, Smith was convicted in state court of four counts of robbery with a dangerous weapon. According to police reports and court documents from those cases, Smith robbed three Charlotte-area pharmacies and a fast-food restaurant and even shot a cashier working at one of the drug stores during one of the robberies.
Smith has been in local federal custody since he was arrested in February 2013. He will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The case was investigated by ATF and PPD. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Dillon.