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CHARLOTTE, N.C. – On Monday, July 8, 2013, a Charlotte federal jury convicted Antonio Donte Smith, 29, of Charlotte, of robbing a Rite Aid pharmacy in September 2012 and related firearms violations, announced Anne M. Tompkins, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of North Carolina.
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.
On January 15, 2013, Smith was indicted by a federal grand jury on one count of Hobbs Act Robbery, one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and one count of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. After nearly three days of trial, Smith was found guilty of all charges.
According to filed documents, evidence presented at trial and witness testimony:
On September 4, 2012, Smith entered a Rite Aid pharmacy located in Pineville, N.C. wearing a white hooded sweatshirt and a cut-off black tee-shirt sleeve across his face, and carrying a Ruger, .45 caliber pistol. Smith waited for a customer to leave the register counter, then pointed the firearm at the store clerk and demanded money from the cash register. The cashier opened the register and Smith took the money out of the drawer. While Smith was taking the money, a customer approached the register. Smith pointed his firearm at the customer, told the customer to get on his knees, and robbed the customer of his wallet. Smith then proceeded to the store’s office, where forced the store manager to give him all the money kept in the store’s safe.
Smith fled the scene, got into his get-away vehicle and led law enforcement officers on a high speed chase. After running two red lights and hitting another vehicle, Smith abandoned his damaged car and ran into a wooded area where he dropped the firearm, the white hooded sweatshirt, and the cloth he used as a mask. Police officers, assisted by the K-9 unit, tracked Smith who was hiding in a nearby apartment complex. Smith attempted to flee again at which time the K-9 handlers released the dog after Smith. Smith was apprehended by law enforcement, after he sustained a dog bite in his thigh. In the area where Smith was apprehended, officers found money and a receipt that belonged to the Rite Aid customer who Smith had robbed earlier.
At trial, the pharmacy customer Smith had robbed in the store testified that he was scared for his life during the robbery. Witnesses also testified that while Smith was in the office with the store manager, Smith pointed the firearm at her and began to count down from ten while she tried to open the safe. At trial, Smith claimed that it was his brother who had robbed the Rite Aid pharmacy.
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 that case, Smith robbed three Charlotte-area Eckerd Drugs and a KFC 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 and will remain in custody until his sentencing date, which has not yet been set. At sentencing, Smith faces a faces a minimum of 22 years and a maximum of life in prison, a $250,000 fine or both.
The case was investigated by ATF and PPD. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Dillon.