U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
Northern District of Alabama
Northern District of Alabama
For Immediate Release
January 26, 2012
Joyce White Vance, United States Attorney
Contact: Peggy Sanford
Birmingham Man Gets Life Plus 40 Years in Prison for Violent Business Robberies
BIRMINGHAM – A federal judge today sentenced one Birmingham man to life plus 40 years in prison and a second to almost 29 years in prison as the last of five defendants sentenced in connection to a series of violent robberies in the Birmingham area between December 2009 and March 2010, announced U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance, ATF Special Agent in Charge Glenn Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge Patrick Maley.
U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced OMARI ELLIOT, 30, for violent robberies at two businesses within a one-week span in the spring of 2010. In separate trials last year, one federal jury convicted Elliot for armed robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence for the March 16, 2010, robbery of a Cash America store on Parkway East in Birmingham. Judge Coogler sentenced Elliot to 20 years for that robbery and to life for the use of a firearm during a crime of violence in that case. A second jury found Elliot guilty of the March 22, 2010, armed robbery of the Diamond World jewelry store in Hoover. The judge sentenced him to another 20 years for that robbery.
In recommending a life sentence for Elliot, the government noted in its sentencing memorandum that he has "consistently been involved in the criminal justice system throughout his entire adult life," and that the crime at the Diamond World store "was extraordinarily serious because it caused significant harm to the victims."
According to court records, Elliot struck two of the store employees in the head with a hammer before using it to smash a display case and steal about $60,000 worth of diamond earrings. Elliot struck a female worker in the head with the hammer three times, severing an artery in the back of her head. He also broke her collarbone as he forcibly pulled her out from behind a counter.
Judge Coogler sentenced DERRICK CRAIG, 28, to 28 years and 10 months in prison for his role in the Diamond World robbery. Craig pleaded guilty in August to armed robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in connection to that robbery. According to court documents, Craig had helped case the business five days before the robbery, bought the hammer that Elliot used and drove a rented SUV that was used in the robbery.
Omari Elliot and Derrick Craig were members of a dangerous group willing to use violence to take what was not theirs, Vance said.
They did serious harm to innocent people who were working for a living at the businesses they robbed. Thanks to the committed and cooperative work of law enforcement, the violent members of this group no longer threaten our communities, she said.
I want to extend my personal thanks to the Birmingham and Hoover police departments and the agents involved in this investigation. The citizens of North Alabama can be assured that the FBI and our law enforcement partners will continue to remove these types of violent criminals from our streets, Maley said.
Elliot and Craig will spend decades in federal prison for their vicious criminal activity. Choosing firearms and an everyday tool like a hammer to rob and attack innocent people is horribly disturbing, Anderson said.
Fortunately, this case is another example of how ATF and our law enforcement partners focus on stopping violence and ultimately incarcerating offenders who insist on violent crime as a way of life, he said.
Elliot and Craig were indicted last year along with ANTOINE JAMAR HARPER, 29, AARON THOMAS, 34, and KENDRA NESHELL BOWIE, 27, all of Birmingham. They were indicted for the series of robberies that were similar in nature, occurred within a short time frame and were part of a larger scheme. Thomas was charged in five robberies; Harper in four; Elliot in two and Craig and Bowie in one.
On Jan. 11, Judge Coogler sentenced Harper to 39 years and three months in prison and Thomas to 72 years and seven months.
Harper pleaded guilty last year to the Diamond World armed robbery, separate armed robberies in January 2010 and March 2010 at a Cash America store on Parkway East in Birmingham, and a January 2010 attempted armed robbery at the BB&T Bank on Red Lane Road in Birmingham. He also pleaded guilty to brandishing a gun during a crime of violence at both the Diamond World robbery and the attempted bank robbery.
Harper committed the January 2010 Cash America robbery and the attempted BB&T Bank robbery with Thomas. Thomas pleaded guilty to those charges and to brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence in both cases. Thomas also pleaded guilty to armed robberies at the Shoe Show on Parkway East and at the Church’s Chicken on First Avenue North in Birmingham in December 2009. He pleaded guilty to discharging a firearm during a crime of violence in the Shoe Show robbery, and pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm in connection to a Jan. 4, 2010, robbery at a Dollar General Store on Parkway East.
Bowie pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced in December to 26 months in prison.
The ATF, FBI and the Birmingham and Hoover police departments investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Montminy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Johnson prosecuted the offenses committed by Elliot, Craig, Harper and Bowie. Assistant U.S. Attorney Enid Dean Athanas assisted Montminy with the Thomas prosecution.