Saturday, November 30, 2019

Defendant Receives 147 Months in Prison for Robbing Eight Commercial Businesses with Firearm

United States Attorney Richard W. Moore of the Southern District of Alabama announces today that United States District Judge Terry F. Moorer sentenced defendant Deonta Terrell Felts, 26, to imprisonment for 147 months for interference with commerce by robbery and for brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. As part of the sentence, the judge ordered that Felts undergo three years of supervised release after finishing his term of imprisonment, pay a $200 mandatory special assessment; receive substance abuse testing and mental health treatment as directed by the U.S. Probation Office; face credit restrictions; and pay restitution totaling $7,159.24. The judge also recommended to the Bureau of Prisons that the defendant receive substance abuse treatment while incarcerated.

On June 27, 2019, a federal grand jury for the Southern District of Alabama charged Felts with four counts of interference with commerce by robbery in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1951(a) and four counts of brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(1)(A)(ii). On August 15, 2019, Felts appeared before District Judge Moorer and pleaded guilty to a robbery charge and to a brandishing charge.

Felts admitted to the following facts at his plea hearing. In September and October 2017, in the Southern District of Alabama and elsewhere, Felts committed Hobbs Act robberies of commercial businesses. Each robbery was a crime of violence per 18 U.S.C. § 924(c)(3) that obstructed, delayed, and affected interstate commerce. During each robbery, Felts brandished a firearm and knowingly took property against a victim’s will by using actual or threatened force, or violence, and caused the victim to fear harm, either immediately or in the future.

At 12:42am on September 10, 2017, Felts entered Baymont Inn & Suites, 5634 Tillmans Corner Pkwy, Mobile, Alabama 36619 with a handgun. He approached J.N. and demanded money from the register. Felts pointed the gun at J.N., who froze for a moment. Felts walked behind the counter with J.N. and told J.N. to open the register. Felts went into the drawer and took the cash along with the change. J.N. gave Felts $301.29 from the drawer. Felts took the money and fled the business on foot.

At 2:45am on September 11, 2017, Felts entered CEFCO, 29626 State Hwy 181, Daphne, Alabama 36526 wearing dark blue jeans with a black shirt wrapped around his head. Felts showed store clerk C.G. a black semi-automatic pistol, which he was carrying in his right hand. Felts had the pistol close to his right hip and pointed it in the clerk’s direction. Felts laughed as C.G. was standing in shock. Felts told C.G. to open the register, which C.G. did. Felts then told the clerk to open the safe. The clerk said, “I can't open the safe.” Felts told C.G. to turn the key on the safe, which the clerk did, showing Felts that the key would not open the safe. Felts then told the clerk to open the other register. The clerk handed Felts all of the five and twenty-dollar bills out of both registers. Felts then demanded all the quarters, which C.G. gave. Felts placed all of the money in his pockets and then told C.G. to “give me all the Newport green 100’s and Kool greens.” C.G. grabbed four cartons of each, placed them in a plastic bag, and handed the bag to Felts, who told C.G. that the clerk “was attractive and don't call the cops.” Felts left the store, stealing $490 from CEFCO:  $400 worth of cigarettes and $90 in U.S. currency.

At 3:14am on September 11, 2017, Felts entered Waffle House, 13101 E. Flowerwood Rd, Loxley, Alabama 36551 wearing blue jeans and a black long-sleeved shirt over his head and shoulders. Felts brandished a mid-sized black semi-automatic handgun and demanded cash from the register. Felts ordered the employees, S.H. and E.T., to hand him the cash. He did not touch the register or counter. After stealing $300 in cash from the register, Felts ordered the employees to open the safe. S.H. told Felts that S.H. was unable to access the safe. Felts then left Waffle House and returned to a vehicle parked behind the business. Felts fled northbound on Highway 59.

At 10:40pm on September 12, 2017, Felts entered Domino’s Pizza, 6305 Cottage Hill Rd, Mobile, Alabama 36609 wearing a black hoody, dark colored jeans, and a black shirt draped over his head. Felts brandished a black semiautomatic pistol towards R.C., who was standing at the counter. Felts demanded all the money from the register but determined that there was not enough money in the register, so he demanded that the safe be opened. Another victim, D.W., then opened the exterior portion of the safe. Felts removed money from the safe and the register. Felts stole $388.42 from the business and fled the scene.

At 12:04am on September 13, 2017, Felts entered Circle K, 9875 Airport Blvd., Mobile, Alabama 36608 with a black t-shirt covering up his head. He pointed a black semi-automatic pistol at the clerk, C.C., and demanded property. C.C. retrieved Newport cigarettes and cigarillos from the shelves. Felts obtained the items as well as $80 from the safe and $114 from the register, and fled the store. In total, Felts stole $1,634 from Circle K: $194 in cash, $640 worth of cigarettes, and $800 worth of cigarillos.

At 9pm on September 13, 2017, Felts entered Subway, 951 Schillinger Rd N E, Mobile, Alabama 36608 armed with a black handgun and gloves. He demanded that C.H. open the cash register and give him money. Felts threatened to shoot C.H. in the foot. Felts forced C.H. at gunpoint to open the safe to get money out of it. Felts stole $200 in U.S. currency from the safe and $50 in U.S. currency from the cash register. Felts fled the scene on foot. C.H. used her cell phone to call 911.

At 9:44pm on September 13, 2017, Felts entered Dollar General, 2381 Dawes Rd, Mobile, Alabama 36695 wearing a black sweatshirt and gloves and armed with a gun. Felts walked up to the register area where one employee, S.M., was located behind the counter. Felts called another employee, J.W., to come to him. Felts brandished a small black semi-automatic handgun and pointed it at J.W.’s chest. Felts demanded money from S.M. from the register and told S.M. to open the safe. Felts took the money and placed it in his pocket. Felts then escorted the victims at gunpoint back to the manager’s office, made J.W. give him his phone, and kept the victims in the office before leaving. Felts exited the store on foot heading north through the parking lot. Officers later tracked the stolen cell phone back to the inside of the store. In total, Felts stole $252 in cash from Dollar General.

At 7:22pm on October 21, 2017, Felts entered Hibbett Sports, 3 W. Nine Mile Rd., Pensacola, Florida 32534. He wore blue gloves and a blue bandana that fell down several times during the robbery. Felts pointed a Glock handgun at two store clerks, D.S. and S.R., told them he was robbing them, and demanded that they go to the back room where the safe was. Hibbett Sports had no safe, which S.R. tried to explain. Felts got angry, pointed the gun at the clerks’ heads, and said that he was going to kill them if they did not give him the money. Felts pulled out a white zip tie from his pocket and ordered S.R. to tie D.S.’s hands behind his back. S.R. tried to tie D.S.’s hands but left the tie loose. Felts then ordered S.R. to get him two pairs of shoes from the stock room. S.R. did so. Felts took the shoes and ordered S.R. to give him S.R.’s iPhone. Felts reached into D.S.’s front pocket and stole his cash.

Felts then ordered the clerks to go to the registers. Felts followed the clerks with the gun pointed at their heads and ordered D.S. to sit down. Felts demanded that S.R. grab a new backpack from the wall in the store, open the registers, and put money in it. S.R. opened the registers and began putting money in the backpack. Felts set his firearm on the floor next to D.S. When Felts started grabbing cash from the register and placing it in the backpack, D.S. freed his hands, grabbed the firearm, and started shooting at Felts. D.S. shot Felts twice as he fled out of the front door. Felts dropped the backpack with all of the cash in the store as he was running and lost one of his stolen shoes just outside the entrance. (Law enforcement officials later recovered $1,505 in the backpack.)

D.S. pursued Felts eastbound through the parking lot of the business, then southbound down Palafox St. D.S. chased Felts one block into the parking lot of Salute Gymnastics, where D.S. shot three more rounds at Felts. Three empty shell casings were found in front of Salute Gymnastics. Two empty casings were found inside of Hibbett Sports alongside the spent rounds that likely hit Felts. Law enforcement officials also found fresh blood drops leading out of the front of Hibbett Sports, on the sidewalk, and in the parking lot of Salute Gymnastics. According to a FBI laboratory report, DNA from floor swabs recovered from the robbery matched Felts’s DNA with very strong statistical support. In total, Felts owes $330 to Hibbett Sports for the estimated value of two pairs of Air Jordan tennis shoes; $51 to D.S. for the cash Felts stole from D.S.’s right front pocket; and restitution to S.R. for the value of the iPhone 7 that Felts stole from S.R. during the robbery. S.R. was injured during the robbery and incurred $3,162.53 worth of medical costs.

Later on October 21, 2017, Felts checked himself into Thomas Hospital in Fairhope, Alabama for gunshot injuries. He had been shot several times and was later transferred to USA Medical Center in Mobile, Alabama for treatment.

At October 24, 2017, law enforcement officials interviewed Felts. After being Mirandized, Felts admitted to being responsible for robbing the CEFCO store in Daphne and the Waffle House in Loxley in September 2017. Felts said he had “f***ed up,” had used a “smoker car” for transportation during his robberies, and had traded drugs for use of the car. In a separate post-Miranda interview on October 24 with police officers, Felts made incriminating statements regarding robberies in Mobile County.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Mobile Police Department, the Daphne Police Department, the Loxley Police Department, and the Escambia County Sheriff’s Office in Escambia County, Florida investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Sinan Kalayoglu prosecuted the case.

Two Kings County Men Charged with Possessing and Selling Machine Guns

FRESNO, Calif. — A three-count indictment was unsealed today charging Eric Lopez Mercado, 25, of Lemoore, and Jose Moreno, 24 of Hanford, with illegally possessing and transferring machine guns, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

The indictment charges Mercado and Moreno with possessing several pistols that had no serial number markings but had conversion devices attached to the rear of the firearms that enabled them to function as fully automatic weapons. Both men are also charged with transferring a machine gun to another person and possessing a device capable of converting a handgun into a machine gun.

This case is the product of a multi-agency investigation into the criminal activities of individuals associated with the Nuestra Familia prison gang. That investigation culminated in the arrests of over 50 individuals on federal and state charges, including Mercado and Moreno. The investigation was led by the Kings County Gang Task Force; Agents of the Special Operations Unit – a team of agents from the California Department of Justice and the California Highway Patrol; California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation; the FBI; and the Kings County District Attorney's Office. The Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms, the U.S. Marshals Service, and Homeland Security Investigations all assisted with the arrests. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kimberly Sanchez and Justin Gilio are prosecuting the case.

If convicted, both Mercado and Moreno face a maximum statutory penalty of 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

This case was part of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF). The OCDETF Program was established in 1982 to conduct comprehensive, multilevel attacks on major drug trafficking and money laundering organizations. The principal mission of the OCDETF program is to identify, disrupt, and dismantle the most serious drug trafficking and money laundering organizations and those primarily responsible for the nation’s drug supply.

Maine Man Arrested for Hobbs Act Robbery

BOSTON – A Maine man has been arrested and charged with Hobbs Act robbery.

William “Billy” Angelesco, 48, of Saco, Maine, was indicted on one count of interfering with commerce by threats or violence. Angelesco was arrested this morning and will appear in federal court in Portland, Maine today.  He will appear in Boston at a later date.

The charging statute provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, five years of supervised release and a fine of $250,000. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Boston Field Division; Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police; and Abington Police Chief David G. Majenski made the announcement today. Assistance was provided by the Saco (Maine) Police Department. Assistant U.S. Attorney Laura J. Kaplan of Lelling’s Organized Crime and Gang Unit is prosecuting the case.

The details contained in the indictment are allegations. The defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.