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Justice News

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

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, February 24, 2020

Local Man Sentenced to 15 Years for Multiple Business Robberies; Two Co-Defendants also Sentenced

Memphis, TN –Artavius Burnett, 21, has been sentenced to 180 months in federal prison for the armed robbery of two businesses, theft from a Federal Firearms Licensee, the disposing and selling of stolen firearms, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant announced the sentence today.

According to information presented in court, on November 20, 2017, Artavius Burnett, together with a juvenile accomplice, robbed the Pawn Plus on 5851 Winchester, which is a Federal Firearms Licensee (FFL). Both Burnett and his accomplice wore hoodies and red bandannas over their faces. Burnett pointed a pistol at the two employees and demanded they put handguns in his backpack while the juvenile stood as a lookout. The employees complied and Burnett took 17 handguns from the store, and then fled.

On November 27, 2017, Artavius Burnett, again together with a juvenile accomplice, robbed the Family Dollar at 9109 Highway 64. This robbery followed the same pattern as the first robbery, with Burnett pointing a pistol at multiple employees and the juvenile standing at the door as a lookout. One of the store clerks gave Burnett $1,783 and they fled the store.

Burnett was developed as a suspect based upon a Crime Stoppers tip. He later admitted to law enforcement to being a member of the Vice Lords gang, to robbing both businesses, and to selling some of the stolen firearms "on the street."

On November 25, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman sentenced Jasmine Meabon, a co-defendant who served as the getaway driver during both robberies and who also sold and distributed some of the stolen firearms, to 168 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release.

On August 1, 2019, U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman sentenced Breanna Shields, a co-defendant who assisted Meabon by hiding and disposing some of the stolen firearms and later threatened a potential witness, to 24 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release.

On February 21, 2020, U.S. District Court Judge Sheryl H. Lipman sentenced Artavius Burnett to 180 months in federal prison followed by 3 years supervised release.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant said, "Armed business robbery that threatens and harms store owners must be dealt with swiftly and certainly. Likewise, the theft of multiple firearms is especially dangerous, and threatens the lives of countless citizens when stolen guns hit the streets. Any robbery of a FFL will be met with aggressive federal prosecution in order to protect public safety, and these sentences are just punishment that will incapacitate these violent offenders."

The Memphis Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the FBI’s Safe Street Task Force investigated this case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney J. William Crow prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

Updated February 24, 2020