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Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives

Middle District of Florida

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2011

Robert E. O'Neill, United States Attorney

Contact: William Daniels, Director of Community Relations
(813) 274-6388

Armed Robber Gets 50 Years

Tampa, Florida — U.S. Attorney Robert E. O’Neill announces that U.S. District Judge James D. Whittemore yesterday sentenced Lashay Theodora Cooper (23, Bradenton) to 50 years in federal prison for the robbery of a Chevron gas station convenience store and the pistol–whipping of a clerk at an Uppy’s BP gas station. The court also ordered that Cooper’s sentence run consecutive to his 70–month state prison sentence for two unrelated armed robberies in Florida. Cooper was ordered to make restitution to his victims in the amount of $2,414.60.

Cooper was indicted on July 22, 2010, and pled guilty on January 27, 2011, to brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and robbery of a Chevron SAS station.

According to Cooper’s plea agreement and evidence presented at the trial of a codefendant, on October 25, 2009, Cooper and his accomplice, Charles Bernard Tolson, robbed the Uppy’s BP gas station located on U.S. 41 North in Palmetto, Florida. During this robbery, Tolson pointed a handgun at a 56–year–old store clerk and pulled the trigger twice when she failed to open the cash register. The gun failed to discharge both times. When the gun did not fire, Tolson then handed it to Cooper and told him to shoot the clerk or hit her with it. Cooper pistol–whipped the clerk, causing a severe gash on top of her head. From this armed robbery, Cooper and Tolson stole one to two cartons of cigarettes.

Two days later, on October 27, 2009, Cooper and Tolson robbed a Chevron gas station located on State Road 70 East in Bradenton, Florida. Similar to the other robbery, Tolson pointed a handgun at the store clerk and demanded money, while Cooper walked around the back of the checkout counter and emptied the cash registers. Ultimately, Cooper and Tolson stole several hundred dollars and three cartons of cigarettes.

This case was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Tampa Police Department, and the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office. It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Walter E. Furr, III and Simon Gaugush.