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Friday, February 05, 2016

Two Georgia Residents Indicted in Interstate Armed Jewelry Theft Case

Abigail Lee Kemp, 24, of Smyrna, Georgia, and Lewis Jones III, 35, of Atlanta, Georgia, were arraigned today in federal court after a grand jury returned an indictment charging them with conspiracy, obstructing commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.  The indictment was announced by Acting U.S. Attorney Christopher P. Canova for the Northern District of Florida.

The indictment alleges that, between April 2015 and January 2016, Kemp and Jones conspired to commit armed robberies at a series of jewelry stores, including Jared Vault, Zales Outlet and Reeds Jewelers.  It further alleges that Kemp and Jones brandished and used a firearm during the robbery of Reeds Jewelers.  The trial is scheduled for March 21, 2016, at the U.S. Courthouse in Panama City, Florida.

The potential penalties for both the conspiracy and obstructing commerce by robbery counts are a maximum of 20 years in prison.  For brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, the punishment is a minimum of seven years and a maximum of life in prison, to run consecutive to any penalty on the other counts.

Kemp and Jones were first charged by criminal complaint last month.  They were arrested together in the Smyrna area on Jan. 8, 2016, on charges related to the armed robberies of six jewelry stores in Panama City Beach, Florida; Woodstock, Georgia; Dawsonville, Georgia; Bluffton, South Carolina; Mebane, North Carolina; and Sevierville, Tennessee.  The charging documents reflect that, in each robbery, the robber brandished a firearm and ordered the employees to the back of the store where they were forced to lie face down on the ground with their hands zip tied behind their backs.  Hundreds of thousands of dollars-worth of jewelry was then removed from the jewelry display cases.

An indictment is merely an allegation by a grand jury that a defendant has committed a violation of federal criminal law and is not evidence of guilt.  All defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt at trial.

This case resulted from an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn D. Risinger is prosecuting the case.

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