Il Pastaio Suspect Pleads Not Guilty?

Khai McGhee, 18, appeared in federal court on June 11 and pleaded not guilty to three felonies related to the March armed robbery at Il Pastaio. The other two suspects in the case, Malik Lamont Powell, 20, and Marquise Anthony Gardon, 30, have yet to submit a plea. Both McGhee and Powell remain in detention, while Gardon was released on $25,000 bail.

The attorney representing McGhee did not respond to a request for comment. 

All three have been charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit interference with commerce by robbery and one count of possession and use of a firearm during a crime of violence. According to FBI Special Agent Matthew Moon, who leads the Bureau’s L.A. field office, the suspects are members of the Rollin’ 30s Harlem Crips street gang.

A criminal complaint filed in federal court alleges that five suspects were involved in the heist, leaving two at large. An affidavit filed by an FBI special agent in support of the charges alleges that Powell’s car, a black BMW 328i GT, was used as the getaway vehicle and that another unnamed suspect scouted the area in advance of the robbery. The woman walked around the Business Triangle appearing to speak on her phone, which the affidavit describes as a ruse to ferret out the Richard Mille-RM-11-03 Rose Gold Flyback watch worn by Shy Belhassen as he dined at Il Pastaio.

Belhassen told the Courier that he saw three men “running towards me with a gun” before the two unarmed men took his $500,000 watch while the other held him at gunpoint. Belhassen said that he then “grabbed the gun” from the suspect and “fought him to the ground.” In the ensuing scuffle, the gun went off and injured another patron, Amanda Shawshan, who sustained a minor injury as a result.

Even after the arrests, law enforcement has yet to locate the watch. Belhassen has offered a $50,000 reward for its return. The affidavit details steps the suspects allegedly took to sell the watch. Based on Instagram messages and cell tower location data obtained by the investigators, Powell went to a jeweler in Chinatown only hours after stealing the watch. In a conversation with the Courier, the jeweler said that he recognized the watch from news reports and declined to buy it.

The complaint lays out the case against McGhee, who authorities say was one of three suspects that assaulted the victim. Most damningly, the complaint claims that McGhee’s blood got onto the victim in the scuffle over the watch. The affidavit also claims that Powell’s Instagram account provided circumstantial evidence tying the three suspects to the crime, including photos of a handgun similar to the one used in the robbery and a Richard Mille watch of the same make and model. Both Gardon and McGhee appeared in Powell’s Instagram, according to the FBI’s account. 

While Beverly Hills has seen a series of high-profile crimes, including a spate of anti-semitic attacks, overall crime remains down according to Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) statistics for May, the most recent month available. The city has experienced an 8% decline in total crime from last year, with 116 less crimes committed overall. 

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