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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of New York

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Buffalo Woman And Man Plead Guilty For Their Roles In Violent Robberies

CONTACT: Barbara Burns
PHONE: (716) 843-5817
FAX #: (716) 551-3051

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Tiana Matias, 28, of Buffalo, NY, pleaded guilty before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy to Hobbs Act Robbery. The charge carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. In addition, Philip Purdue, 42, also of Buffalo, pleaded guilty to possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, which carries a mandatory minimum penalty of seven years in prison, a maximum of life, and a $250,000 fine. 

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeremiah E. Lenihan, who is handling the case, stated that on February 19, 2019, defendant Matias placed a food delivery order with the Niagara Deli & Pizzeria utilizing *67 as a means to hide her telephone number. As the delivery driver (Victim A) arrived on Gorton Street in Buffalo, Matias texted co-defendant Jacob Melvin that the delivery driver was “outside.” Brandishing a firearm, Melvin approached Victim A and demanded money. Melvin then stole money and food from the delivery driver and ran into the area of 36 Hoffman Street in Buffalo. At 36 Hoffman Street, Buffalo Police Officers found the Matias and Melvin. Officers also located the stolen food inside the residence.

On March 1, 2019, defendant Purdue and co-defendant Jacob Melvin committed an armed robbery at Parkside Village, LLC, an apartment/housing complex on Shelley Court in Tonawanda, NY. Purdue and Melvin entered Shelley Court and proceeded to the leasing office. Melvin brandished a firearm at a tenant and a rental agent and started demanding money. Melvin then began taking money, checks, and money orders from inside a desk drawer. Melvin then demanded the leasing agent get up and face the wall. While he was up against the wall with a handgun pointed at him, Melvin stole the leasing agent’s wallet which contained cash. At one point during the robbery, Melvin dropped the money and Purdue came into the room to help him. Purdue, who operated as a lookout, noticed a video camera, pulled his hood up, grabbed a white rag, and started wiping down areas where he and Melvin touched. Purdue and Melvin then left on foot. The two men shared the stolen proceeds.

Hobbs Act Robbery and various firearm offenses remain pending against co-defendant Jacob Melvin. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. 

The pleas are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Stephen Belongia; the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge John B. Devito; the Tonawanda Police Department, under the direction of Chief James Stauffiger; the Buffalo Police Department, under the direction of Commissioner Byron Lockwood; the United States Probation Office, under the direction of Chief Probation Officer Timothy C. Englerth; and the New York State Department of Corrections and Community Supervision, under the direction of Acting Commissioner Anthony J. Annucci.

Matias is scheduled to be sentenced on August 16, 2021, at 12:30 p.m., and Purdue is scheduled to be sentenced on August 20, 2021, at 12:30 p.m. Both sentencings will be before U.S. District Judge Richard J. Arcara. 

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Topic(s): 
Firearms Offenses
Violent Crime
Updated May 18, 2021