Three Long Beach men were indicted Wednesday for their alleged participation in a smash-and-grab robbery at a Beverly Hills jewelry store back in March in which more than $2.6 million in merchandise was stolen.
Jimmy Lee Vernon III, 31, Ladell Tharpe, 37, and Deshon Bell, 20 were each charged in a two-count indictment with conspiracy and interference with commerce by robbery, a violation of the Hobbs Act. If convicted of both charges, each defendant would face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison, according to the United States Attorney’s Office in Los Angeles.
Prosecutors allege that on March 22, the three men, along with at least three other co-conspirators, drove in tandem in three vehicles from Long Beach to Beverly Hills where they stopped in front of a jewelry store in the 200 block of South Beverly Drive.
Wielding axes, sledgehammers and crowbars, the three Long Beach men and their co-conspirators got out of a Kia vehicle, which had been reported stolen out of Long Beach four days before the robbery, and began to smash the store’s exterior glass cases, prosecutors said.
Roughly 19 bracelets, seven pairs of earrings, four necklaces, a pair of obelisks, eight rings, and 20 watches valued at least around $2,674,000 were taken during the robbery, according to prosecutors.
The suspects quickly fled through an alley, leaving behind the stolen Kia and making their way to another car where Bell served as the getaway driver, authorities said.
At the scene, officers discovered a cell phone, which was later determined to have fallen out of Vernon’s sweatpants pocket while he smashed the jewelry store’s window, prosecutors said.
Three days after the robbery, Tharpe posted numerous photographs on his Instagram account, including one with large stacks of money and a message praising his “robbery gang,” prosecutors said.
Authorities said last month that after gathering security footage, investigators managed to identify several other suspects involved in the robbery. With the help of FBI agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Beverly Hills police secured arrest warrants for multiple suspects, police said.
Vernon, Tharpe and Bell were all arrested last month in connection to the robbery. A juvenile from Long Beach, who was also arrested last month in connection to the robbery but was not part of the federal indictment, has been charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with commercial burglary, federal prosecutors said.
Vernon is in federal custody, and was ordered jailed without bond, federal prosecutors said. His arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 13. Tharpe is currently in state custody and is expected to be remanded to federal custody in the coming weeks, authorities said.
Bell has since been released on a $15,000 bond. His arraignment in federal court is scheduled for Oct. 20.