Thursday, March 5, 2015

Five convicted in home invasion plot

Four Philadelphia men face at least 15 years in prison and a fifth faces at least 25 after a federal jury convicted them of robbery, drug and gun charges in connection with a sting last summer by the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Five convicted in home invasion plot

Four Philadelphia men face at least 15 years in prison and a fifth faces at least 25 after a federal jury convicted them of plotting the home-invasion robbery of a drug dealer. 

After a weeklong trial, the jury needed less than a day to return guilty verdicts Wednesday on  conspiracy, robbery, drugs and gun charges against Robert Lamar Whitfield, 33, Marlon Graham, 22, Kenneth Parnell, 27, Kareem Long, 23, and Frank Thompson, 35. The verdicts were announced by the office of U.S. Attorney Zane D. Memeger. 

The men were arrested on July 18, as they traveled in a caravan toward what they thought was a North Philadelphia "stash house" where they planned to steal cash and up to 10 kilograms of cocaine, filings in the case show.

But there was no stash house. The robbery plot had been staged by a confidential informant and an undercover agent from the bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives after Whitfield had bragged, in secretly recorded conversations, that he was an experienced stick-up artist who had been ripping off drug dealers for a decade. "You know that's what I do," he told the informant.

His lawyers argued that the defendants were entrapped and couldn't be convicted of plotting to steal cocaine and money that didn't exist, but the jury decided otherwise.

  U.S. District Court Judge Juan R. Sanchez has not yet scheduled sentencing hearings for the defendants.

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Joseph A. Slobodzian
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