Compton man sentenced to 9 years for robbing gay men he met on Grindr, feds say

A Compton man who admitted earlier this year to robbing several gay men he met on an LGBTQ online dating platform was sentenced Monday to just over nine years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.

Derrick Patterson, 23, admitted in a plea agreement to using Grindr to target and rob five people in the Los Angeles area from June 2021 to March 2022, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Although, prosecutors said in a detailed 38-page statement filed in U.S. District Court earlier this year that Patterson was suspected of robbing over 20 people in a similar fashion dating back to 2019, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Federal prosecutors said Patterson would agree to meet his victims at their homes or in a hotel room under the guise that they’d be having sex. In each instance, Patterson would ask to borrow the victim’s phone in order to access their bank accounts, payment apps or other sources of money, prosecutors said.

During one of the robberies in July 2021, Patterson asked to borrow the victim’s phone and then proceeded to have sex with him as a distraction, prosecutors said. When the victim became suspicious and protested, Patterson threatened him with a kitchen knife and successfully transferred nearly $4,000 from the victim’s account to himself using Venmo, prosecutors said.

Patterson then used the victim’s online account to pay for two transactions on Hotels.com before contacting the victim’s family and friends in Nevada, impersonating him, and requesting they send him money, prosecutors said.

In February 2022, Patterson entered another victim’s residence, this time, using a stun gun to demand money and jewelry, according to court records.

Using the victim’s phone, he contacted the numbers that were saved and asked for money, prosecutors said. He then opened a line of credit in the victim’s name with Goldman Sachs, which he used to purchase Apple AirPods at T-Mobile in Los Angeles and a hotel room, police said.

In April, FBI agents arrested Patterson in Inglewood on a federal robbery charge, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to the robberies, Patterson also admitted to threatening to shoot another victim during their encounter at a hotel room and to using a homophobic slur against one victim whom he assaulted.

At a sentencing hearing Monday, United States District Judge John F. Walter sentenced Patterson to 111 months in federal prison for one count of Hobbs Act robbery and one count of aggravated identity theft. A hate-crime enhancement was added to Patterson’s sentence by Judge Walter, who also ordered that he pay $84,195 in restitution, prosecutors said.

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Fernando Haro is the Long Beach Post's breaking news and public safety reporter.
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