Federal Charges Filed in Jewelry Store Robbery

Three men who allegedly took part in a brazen robbery of $2.6 worth of merchandise from a Beverly Hills jewelry store have been indicted by a federal grand jury. The incident took place on March 23 in broad daylight on South Beverly Drive. 

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California, a two-count indictment was returned on Oct. 5 against Long Beach residents Jimmy Lee Vernon III, 31, Ladell Tharpe, 37, and Deshon Bell, 20. The men were charged with conspiracy and interference with commerce by robbery pursuant to the Hobbs Act. 

If convicted of both charges, defendants each face a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

“If you commit a crime in the city of Beverly Hills, we are going to exhaust all leads until we have you in custody and then we will make sure you answer up to charges either on the state or federal level,” Beverly Hills Police Department Spokesperson Lt. Giovanni Trejo told the Courier. He added, “Once we started working with our federal partners the decision was made to seek federal charges. In the past we have had great results on the federal level.”

The FBI and the Beverly Hills Police Department both investigated the matter. 

“It is not unprecedented to bring federal charges in these types of cases,” Ciaran McEvoy, spokesperson for the United States Attorney’s Office told the Courier. The case is being prosecuted by that office’s Violent and Organized Crime Section. 

According to the indictment, the defendants and other co-conspirators drove together in three different vehicles from Long Beach to Beverly Hills. Once outside the jewelry store, Vernon and other co-conspirators allegedly got out of a Kia vehicle, smashed the store’s exterior glass cases multiple times, and then stole merchandise worth at least $2,674,000. The stolen merchandise consisted of 19 bracelets, seven pairs of earrings, four necklaces, a pair of obelisks, eight rings, and 20 watches.

The defendants then ran out of the store to a nearby alley, leaving the Kia (which had been reported stolen) behind. Defendant Bell allegedly served as a getaway driver. 

Law enforcement was undoubtedly aided by certain actions of the defendants. One of them lost his cellphone in the process of smashing the store window. Another posted photos on his Instagram account on March 25 praising his “robbery gang.” 

The defendants were arrested last month. Vernon is in federal custody, was ordered jailed without bond, with an arraignment scheduled for Oct. 13 in United States District Court. Tharpe is in state custody and should be remanded to federal custody in the coming weeks. Bell was released on $15,000 bond and his arraignment in federal court is scheduled for Oct. 20. A juvenile was also arrested in connection with the robbery, and faces charges in Los Angeles Superior Court for commercial burglary. He was not named in the federal indictment.