Former Customs Employee Pleads Guilty To Auctioning Online A Customs Declaration Form Signed By A Celebrity
CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Jill Westmoreland Rose announced today that Carlos Antoine Benson and Jacob Ivan Hill were sentenced to life in prison by Chief U.S. District Judge Frank D. Whitney, in connection with the 2014 armed robbery, kidnapping and murder of a Charlotte man. Benson was ordered to serve two consecutive life sentences, and both defendants were ordered to pay $6,750 as restitution.
Benson, 37, and Hill, 36, both of Charlotte, were convicted by a federal jury in September 2016 of all charges in the federal indictment, including Hobbs Act robbery and crimes resulting in murder.
C.J. Hyman, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), Charlotte Field Division and Chief Kerr Putney of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department join U.S. Attorney Rose in making today’s announcement.
According to filed court documents, trial evidence, witness testimony and information introduced at the sentencing hearing:
On November 12, 2014, Benson and Hill robbed an individual at gunpoint from whom Hill had been purchasing small amounts of cocaine. Benson and Hill told the individual they wanted to get in touch with his supplier (the victim), causing the individual, at gunpoint, to hand over his cell phone to Hill. Pretending to be the individual, Hill called the victim and arranged to meet on the same day at the parking lot of an apartment complex in Charlotte to purchase drugs. Benson and Hill warned the individual they would “off him” if he tried to alert the victim to the plan.
At the designated location, Benson, armed with a handgun, hid in the back of the individual’s parked vehicle, while Hill walked to a wooded area nearby to serve as lookout for the robbery. When the victim arrived, he entered the parked vehicle and sat in the front passenger seat. Benson sat up behind him and pointed the gun at the victim. Benson told the victim not to flinch, and began to demand the victim’s rings. When the victim reached for a handgun tucked in his pocket, Benson fired his gun, shooting the victim six times, including once in the back of the head. Benson was also wounded.
Immediately after the shooting, Benson approached the victim’s vehicle and observed the victim’s girlfriend seated in the driver’s seat. Benson raised his gun to shoot. The woman, who at the time was four months pregnant, managed to drive away unharmed and called 9-1-1. Benson and Hill fled the scene in Hill’s vehicle. Hill then drove to a secluded cul-de-sac, dropped off Benson in the grass and drove away. Hill was arrested later that same day with firearms and drugs inside his vehicle. Paramedics located Benson in the grass and transported him to the hospital. Upon discharge from the hospital, Benson was arrested.
In announcing today’s sentence, U.S. Attorney Rose said, “Benson and Hill planned and carried out a scheme to rob a suspected narcotics trafficker, ultimately killing him over a small amount of drugs and cash. The two men will now have to spend the rest of their lives in prison for their violent crime. I want to thank the ATF and CMPD for their investigation of this case and for their collaborative efforts to protect our communities from this type of criminal activity.”
“ATF’s mission is to combat violent crime and this investigation achieved that goal. The arrests and subsequent life sentences for Benson and Hill send a clear message that ATF and its law enforcement partners will not allow violent criminals to continue victimizing our communities and neighborhoods,” said Special Agent in Charge Hyman.
Following a two-week trial, Benson and Hill were each convicted of nine charges, including: Hobbs Act robbery and aiding and abetting; conspiracy to commit kidnapping; kidnapping and aiding and abetting; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute cocaine; possession with intent to distribute cocaine and aiding and abetting; brandishing/discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting; causing death in the course of using, carrying and possessing a firearm and in relation to a crime of violence or drug trafficking crime and aiding and abetting; and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
Benson and Hill are currently in federal custody and will be transferred to the custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility. All federal sentenced sentences are served without the possibility of parole.
The investigation was led by the ATF and CMPD. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sanjeev Bhasker, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.