The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office has filed charges against five people who are accused of committing nearly 200 robberies, thefts and fraudulent transactions targeting sellers of Apple products who they contacted online.
On Wednesday, the D.A.’s Office announced Jamari Deon Turner, 21, of Lawndale, Jerome Joseph, 25, of Los Angeles, Tyler Russell, 22, of Lawndale, Kesai Doss, 23, of Palmdale, and Ellis Garrett, 22, of Los Angeles were all arrested and charged in connection with the crimes.
Three of the defendants, Turner, Joseph and Russell, have been charged with committing “Hobbs Act robbery,” which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. Those three were expected to appear in court Wednesday.
Doss and Garrett are charged in a separate criminal complaint on felony charges for wire fraud, which also carries a sentence of up to 20 years in federal prison. They were expected to appear in court in the coming weeks, the D.A.’s Office said.
The five defendants are accused of using online marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook to organize meetups with people selling Apple products, including laptops, phones and other electronic devices.
They would meet their victims at specific places, ask to inspect the device or simply run off with them, occasionally dipping into apartment buildings where their accomplices would lock the victims out. Often if the victims pursued, the defendants would threaten them with violence or brandish a gun.
The crime spree happened between February 2018 through at least June 2020, mostly in Inglewood, Paramount, Long Beach and downtown Los Angeles, court documents state. The five were identified as suspects using common phone numbers, email addresses and online accounts they allegedly used.
The D.A.’s Office named Doss and Garrett as the “most prolific thieves of the individuals charged,” alleging that multiple victims specifically identified Doss as the person who stole their belongings. The charging documents state that the two were tied to the crimes by the phones they used and accounts they had set up to sell the stolen goods.
The other three allegedly engaged in “similar behavior” and sold their victims’ stolen electronics to unidentified buyers, including one incident in June 20202 in which the three allegedly met a victim at their home, pointed a handgun at them and stole their computer and iPhone. They then sold both devices, the court documents state.
In total, the five suspects have been linked to 196 incidents during the two-year crime spree.
Doss and Garrett are currently in state custody, and Turner, Joseph and Russell were arrested on Tuesday. The case is being investigated by the FBI, the Inglewood Police Department and the Los Angeles Police Department.