A sentencing hearing has ended half of the federal criminal case over a $235,715 smash-and-grab robbery at a jewelry store near the Millcreek Mall in November 2018.
A Detroit man was sentenced to seven years in federal prison and ordered to pay restitution for working with a co-defendant to carry out the heist at the Jared Galleria of Jewelry store on Interchange Road.
The sentence for the defendant, Devon A. Edwards, 38, followed the recommended sentence that was included in the plea deal between the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the defense.
U.S. District Judge Susan Paradise Baxter sentenced Edwards on Thursday. She also gave him three years of supervised release, gave him credit for time served in prison since his arrest and recommended that he serve the sentence at the federal prison closest to the eastern Alabama city of Piedmont, according to court records.
Edwards pleaded guilty in August to a felony count of a Hobbs Act robbery, or a robbery that affects interstate commerce. He faced a maximum sentence of 20 years.
His co-defendant is Roderick D. Brown, also of Detroit, who was 19 at the time of the robbery. Brown pleaded guilty in August 2020 to a count of robbery under the Hobbs Act. He is scheduled to be sentenced in federal court in Erie on Jan. 25. He is free on an unsecured bond of $20,000 and living in Detroit, according to court records.
The plea deal in Brown’s case does not include a recommended sentence, though the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the plea letter said that, at sentencing, the office would move for adjustments to his sentence. Brown faces a maximum sentence of 20 years.
Edwards and Brown were accused of holding up the Jared Galleria of Jewelry store, at 2081 Interchange Road, south of the Millcreek Mall, on Nov. 19, 2018. They stole the jewelry at about 8:50 p.m. — just before closing time — when customers and employees were still in the store, located just east of the interchange with Interstate 79, according to information presented in court in Edwards’ case.
Wearing masks, they used hammers to smash glass display cases. They carried the jewelry out of the store while the merchandise was still in the display packaging.
The two fled in a red minivan that police said had been reported stolen in Detroit. Witnesses told police that the thieves had left in the van, which ended up heading west on I-90. At about 15 minutes after the robbery, Pennsylvania State Police used spike strips to stop the van, causing it to crash at the Route 215 exit in Springfield Township in western Erie County.
Edwards and Brown ran from the scene. Brown was arrested immediately. After Millcreek police initially charged him, he was indicted in federal court in January 2019.
Edwards provided online evidence that helped authorities catch him. He posted a message on Facebook that he had robbed the store and escaped after a chase, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He also posted an image of himself wearing a sweatshirt with a distinctive American flag design, which investigators used to link him to the heist. The robbery was captured on surveillance video.
Plea hearing: He took $235K in jewelry in smash-and-grab heist near mall. His Facebook post aided police
Investigators used the Facebook posts as well as other evidence, including cell tower records and DNA, to find Edwards, who was indicted in April 2019 and arrested in May 2019. Plea negotiations and other issues led to the delays in resolving the case, according to court records.
The FBI and Millcreek police investigated along with the Pennsylvania state police.
Other recent court action
• West Springfield resident Gage T. Adams, 25, accused by the state police of taking items from Fairview Fire & Rescue and its members when he entered the fire station without permission on Nov. 5, waived a third-degree felony count of criminal trespass to court at his preliminary hearing on Thursday.
A first-degree felony count of burglary and a misdemeanor count of theft were withdrawn at Thursday’s hearing.
State police accused Adams of entering the Fairview fire station at 7190 West Ridge Road when department members were out on a call and taking items including a flashlight and an ice pack belonging to the department. A department official said one member’s earbuds were also stolen.
Fairview robbery: State police say Facebook post helps nab suspect who stole items in Fairview fire hall break-in
Contact Ed Palattella at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNpalattella.
Contact Tim Hahn at [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @ETNhahn.
This article originally appeared on Erie Times-News: 7-year sentence ordered in $235K Millcreek jewelry smash-and-grab heist