Indiana pair face prison time for heists in Jonesboro, Illinois

Indiana pair face prison time for heists in Jonesboro, Illinois

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Two Indiana men were sentenced Thursday to lengthy terms in federal prison in back-to-back sentencing hearings over charges related to the attempted robbery of a Jonesboro pharmacy and a robbery later the same day of an Illinois grocery store.

Tavon Lockridge, 22, and Raymond Craig, 23, both of Indianapolis, pleaded guilty last December before U.S. District Judge Lee Rudofsky. The two men were indicted for attempted robbery of a CVS Pharmacy in Jonesboro that occurred June 21, 2018.

Besides the Jonesboro robbery attempt, both men also pleaded guilty to a robbery the same day of a Greenville, Ill., grocery store in a case transferred from the Southern District of Illinois under Rule 20 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure. That indictment was handed up by an Illinois grand jury Jan. 21, 2021.

Lockridge was given sentences of 70 months for the Jonesboro holdup attempt and 63 months for the armed robbery of CC Food Mart in Greenville, Ill., with the two sentences to run consecutively for a total of 133 months in prison.

Craig was sentenced to 71 months for the Jonesboro holdup attempt and 28 months for the CC Food Mart robbery with both sentences to run consecutively for a total of 99 months. Rudofsky ordered those sentences to also run consecutively with a 135-month prison term Craig is currently serving in federal prison for robbery of a Walgreens Pharmacy in Jefferson City, Mo. that happened just over a month later on July 25, 2018.

The statutory maximum sentences were 20 years on each count. The sentencing guideline range for each of Lockridge’s offenses was calculated at 63 to 78 months and for each of Craig’s offenses was calculated at 57 to 71 months.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bart Dickinson argued forcefully for the government’s motion for an upward variance to 10 years on each count to run consecutively. Lockridge’s attorney, Joseph Robert Perry of Marianna, and Craig’s attorney, James Winnfield Wyatt of Little Rock asked Rudofsky to sentence their clients to the low end of the sentencing guideline range and to run the sentences concurrently. In addition, Wyatt asked Rudofsky to run Craig’s sentences concurrently with the sentence he is presently serving for the Missouri robbery.

As evidence to support the government’s sentencing motions, Dickinson showed video of the Jonesboro and Greenville robberies as well as a third robbery at a Burger King in Effingham, Ill., that was committed the same day as the other two robberies.

In the video of the CVS Pharmacy robbery attempt, three men can be seen running into the store, and as one man points a gun at the cashier another man can be seen handcuffing her with zip ties and forcing her to kneel on the floor. The man securing the cashier was identified as Craig. The man holding the gun has never been identified.

FBI Special Agent Elizabeth Alexander, one of the agents who worked the case, described how the investigation unfolded. She said that between 2013 and 2016, robberies of pharmacies in Indiana were a “huge problem,” with 170 pharmacy robberies in 2015 alone, 132 of those in Marion County, Ind., where Indianapolis is located. Those robberies, she said, were attributed to a group called the “Indy Mob” that was robbing pharmacies of cash and pills and selling the pills on the streets.

After that group was prosecuted, Alexander said, FBI offices around the Midwest began noticing an uptick in pharmacy robberies in several states, including Arkansas, that were being perpetrated by Indianapolis residents.

Rudofsky made it clear early on in both hearings that because federal sentencing statutes gave him the discretion, he had no intention of running the sentences concurrently, that concurrent sentences did not provide sufficient deterrent effect.

“If you commit one crime you need to pay for one crime,” he said. “If you commit two crimes you need to pay for two crimes.”

In Craig’s hearing, Rudofsky wrangled for over an hour with the attorneys over whether Craig’s Missouri conviction constituted relevant conduct to the instant offense, in which case the judge would have been bound by statute to run any sentence given on Thursday concurrently with his sentence in the Missouri robbery. But, because that robbery happened more than a month later and didn’t involve Lockridge, Rudofsky ruled that it was a separate offense and not part of the conspiracy.

At that, Craig bowed his head and leaned onto his left hand, not looking up for a long while.

Rudofsky said because he was ordering Craig’s sentences to stack on top of the sentence he is already serving, he elected to only sentence him to 28 months in the Illinois robbery.

“I don’t think more than 99 months here, considering he’s already serving a significant sentence in the other case is going to add a significant deterrent effect,” Rudofsky said.

In sentencing Lockridge, Rudofsky first said he would sentence him to two 70-month terms but before formally announcing the sentence, the judge reconsidered and decided on 70 months for the Jonesboro robbery attempt and 63 months for the Illinois grocery store holdup.

“I’m going to give you a discount but it’s not going to be a very big discount,” he told Lockridge.

He told Lockridge any similar actions in the future will likely result in an even stiffer sentence.

“If you do something like this in the future,” Rudofsky said, “you are basically going to spend the rest of your natural life in prison.”

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