For Immediate Release
Final Jewelry Heist Defendant Sentenced
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Rasim Ukoja, 51, of Morton Grove, Ill., was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 43 months in prison for robbery.
Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the sentence handed down today by U.S. District Judge Algenon L. Marbley.
Ukoja was involved in a robbery at Gold Craft Company jewelry store on Sinclair Road in Columbus in July 2014.
According to the Statement of Facts, co-defendant Anthony Persinger was approached by a friend to become involved in the robbery of a diamond seller in Columbus and traveled to Columbus from Chicago with Victor Aloush and Ukoja.
On the afternoon of July 29, 2014, Aloush scheduled a meeting with the store owner to negotiate the purchase of two bags of small diamonds. During the meeting, he opened the locked office door.
Persinger opened the office door and announced, “FBI! Don’t move! Get on the ground.”
Persinger pushed the store owner to the ground and attempted to put him in flex cuffs, but the owner bit Persinger’s finger, ripping off the fingernail. As Ukoja and the other defendants fled the store with approximately $242,000 in diamonds, the owner retrieved his firearm and tried to fire but the safety was engaged. The owner was unable to disengage the safety because Persinger had dislocated his thumb.
The diamonds were transported back to Chicago and Ukoja and others were paid for their roles in the offense.
Ukoja pleaded guilty in May to one count of Hobbs Act robbery. Persinger and Aloush each previously pleaded guilty and have been sentenced.
U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the cooperative investigation by ATF and Columbus Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorney David J. Bosley, who is representing the United States in this case.