NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — Christian Johnson, 24, of Hampton, pled guilty today to robbery, as well as possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Johnson was set to begin trial today in Norfolk Federal Court.
Neil H. MacBride, U. S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Assistant Attorney General Lanny A. Breuer of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and James D. Newman, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division, made the announcement after the plea was accepted by United States District Judge Henry C. Morgan.
Johnson was charged in a superseding indictment returned on September 20, 2012, with three counts of robbery and two counts of possessing and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Johnson faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison on the robbery charge and a mandatory total consecutive sentence of 32 years on the firearm counts when he is sentenced on May 1, 2013 in Norfolk.
In a statement of facts filed with his plea agreement, Johnson admitted to robbing Approved Cash Advance located in Norfolk, on June 21, 2012, and a 7–Eleven store on Kecoughtan Road in Hampton on July 3, 2012. During both robberies he possessed and brandished a firearm. Following the 7–Eleven robbery, Johnson was seen entering a vehicle dressed in a black hooded sweatshirt, t–shirt and jeans, and wearing a black ski mask and gloves. A witness followed Johnson’s vehicle and reported it to police. A high speed chase ensued when Johnson failed to yield to law enforcement. Johnson drove across the James River Bridge and began throwing items out of the car on the bridge. The chase ended 30 minutes later when Johnson struck a median, lost control and crashed into several trees. He then fled the scene on foot and was apprehended by the Virginia State Police.
The investigation of this case was led by the ATF’s Washington Field Division, with the assistance of the Norfolk Police Department, Hampton Police Division, Chesapeake Police Department, and the Virginia State Police. Trial Attorneys Louis Crisostomo of the Organized Crime and Gang Section, and Teresa Wallbaum of the Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section, both in the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, are prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.