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Serial cell phone store robber convicted at trial

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A federal jury has convicted a Long Beach, California man of committing a spree of violent cell phone store robberies, announced Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah.

After around two hours of deliberations, a jury on Wednesday found 49-year-old Edward Eugene Robinson guilty of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, two counts of interfering with commerce by robbery, and two counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to evidence presented at trial—which included eyewitness testimony, store surveillance videos, and evidence obtained from search warrants—Mr. Robinson was the leader of a robbery crew that committed at least 15 armed robberies of cell phone stores across North Texas and Southern California in the spring and summer of 2019.

The evidence showed that during the robberies, Mr. Robinson and his accomplices would threaten store employees with guns and tasers and demand that they open the store safes where the phones and other equipment were stored. The robbers would then restrain the employees using zip-ties or cell phone chargers.

Over the course of the conspiracy, Mr. Robinson stole over $600,000 of inventory, including cell phones, tablets, and watches.

Mr. Robinson faces a minimum of 14 years and up to life in federal prison for his crimes. A sentencing date has been set for July 8.  He also faces additional charges in the Central District of California.

“Mr. Robinson and his coconspirators embarked on a multi-state spree of violent robberies, putting the lives of innocent civilians at risk,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Shah. “We are grateful to the prosecutors and law enforcement partners across Texas and California who worked tirelessly to bring this criminal actor to justice.”

“The FBI focuses its investigative resources on suspects who pose the greatest safety threats to the public, including violent serial offenders who cross jurisdictional boundaries,” said Dallas FBI Special Agent in Charge Matthew J. DeSarno. “In addition to stealing over $600,000 of merchandise, Mr. Robinson and his accomplices threatened dozens of employees who were in fear for their lives long after the robberies ended. The FBI’s Safe Streets Task Force and our partners will continue to seek justice for victims of violent crime.”

The other defendants in the case—Aaron Hardrick, 33, and Ncholeion Hollie, 30, both of Fort Worth, Texas—previously pleaded guilty. Mr. Hardrick pleaded guilty in 2019 to multiple federal robbery and firearms charges in North Texas and Southern California. He was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison. Ms. Hollie pleaded guilty in 2020 to one federal robbery charge in North Texas and was sentenced to 9 years in federal prison.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation Safe Streets Task Force, Fort Worth Police Department, Hurst Police Department, and Bedford Police Department conducted the investigation.  Assistant U.S. Attorneys Matthew Weybrecht and Nancy Larson of the Northern District of Texas prosecuted the case. They received substantial assistance from Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jerry C. Yang and Peter H. Dahlquist of the Central District of California, who also prosecuted other California members of the robbery crew.

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