SANTA ANA – A robbery crew member was sentenced Monday to serve 11 years in prison, followed by a five-year period of supervised release, and payment of $2,459,350 in restitution to his victims.
Leon Curtis Eckford, 30, of Los Angeles, also known as “Porky” and “Spank,” admitted to his participation in two brazen smash-and-grab robberies netting more than $2 million worth of Rolex watches being sold at retail outlets in Orange and Riverside counties.
The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department conducted this investigation.
“These senseless robberies carried out by this smash-and-grab crew jeopardized the lives and safety of employees, customers, security guards, and innocent bystanders,” said ATF Los Angeles Field Division Special Agent in Charge Eric D. Harden. “Those who violently brandish and use firearms to carry out criminal acts will be sought by ATF, with our state and local partners, and held accountable to face federal criminal charges - regardless of their role.”
Eckford admitted to participating in two robberies that occurred in popular Southern California shopping malls during evening hours. During both robberies, the defendant entered the jewelry store and assisted in the smash-and-grab style theft.
According to court document, Eckford and several others conducted a smash-and-grab robbery at Ben Bridge Jewelers in the Riverside Galleria mall. The thieves left with more than $200,000 in Rolex watches.
According to court documents, Eckford also admitted to participating in the January 15, 2016 armed smash-and-grab robbery of Rolex Boutique Baron & Leeds in the South Coast Plaza Mall. During that robbery, Eckford and his co-conspirators stole 133 Rolex watches with an estimated retail value of over $2.25 million. During the robbery, one of the Eckford’s co-conspirators violently assaulted a security guard with a pistol, while another pepper sprayed the guard.
The defendant pleaded guilty to conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), two counts of interference with commerce by robbery, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a), and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violation, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 924(c)(1)(A)(2).