Federal investigators have arrested six men on suspicion of committing a spree of armed robberies at cellphone stores in five Southern California cities, including Long Beach.
The Department of Justice said Wednesday that the men held store employees at gunpoint, sometimes zip-tying them, and stole nearly $200,000 worth of electronics and cell phones in total.
Investigators believe the men are responsible for the armed robbery of a Bixby Knolls T-Mobile store in August where masked robbers entered the store, took an undisclosed amount of merchandise and fled the scene, according to the Long Beach Police Department.
The five-count federal grand jury indictment was unsealed Tuesday and alleges the men committed conspiracy to interfere with commerce in violation of the Hobbs Act, two specific Hobbs Act violations, and two counts of using a firearm during the robberies. In general, the Hobbs Act prohibits “actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce,” according to the DOJ.
“The indictment alleges that between March 18 and September 8, the defendants conspired to rob cellular phone stores in Chino, Fullerton, Long Beach, Victorville and Beaumont,” the DOJ said. “The defendants allegedly targeted for theft cell phones that did not contain tracking devices.”
The defendants include Long Beach man Edward Eugene Robinson, 48, and Aaron Tremmell Hardrick, 32, of Fort Worth, Texas. Both are in custody in Texas and face charges there based on their alleged violations of the Hobbs Act.
In addition, Anthony Wimbley, 27, of Irvine, was arraigned Wednesday in Riverside. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $80,000 bond. Robert Wimbley, 26, of Pomona, and Darron Wimbley, 28, of Fontana, were both arraigned in federal court yesterday and have been ordered detained. Djovonte Lewis, 22, from Pomona, is in local custody.
In one August 19 incident, the indictment said Hardrick and two unidentified people, wearing masks and with one of them holding a handgun, stole about $65,000 worth of electronic devices from a Sprint store in Victorville. In that robbery, one employee was bound with zip-ties and was forced to lie on the ground.
The defendants stole about $191,053 worth of cell phones and electronic devices, and approximately $2,434 in cash, according to the indictment.
The men are expected to stand trial on December 17. They face a maximum of life in prison, according to the DOJ.