DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Northern District of Illinois

For Immediate Release

Friday, January 22, 2016
Zachary T. Fardon
, United States Attorney
Contact: Everett McKinley Dirksen

Leader of Jewelry Heist Ring Sentenced to 31 Years in Prison for Robbing and Attempting to Rob Jewelers in Chicago and Lake Forest

CHICAGO — The leader of a jewelry heist ring that robbed two Chicago jewelers and attempted to rob another in Lake Forest was sentenced today to more than 31 years in federal prison.

Over the course of two weeks in September and October 2012, PALO BROWN and his crew robbed two jewelry stores in Chicago and a gas station in Forest Park, and also attempted to rob a jeweler in Lake Forest. As they fled the final robbery in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood, Brown and another member of his crew tried to car-jack a woman at gunpoint. The woman screamed and fought back, and the pair fled.

Brown, 34, of Chicago, pleaded guilty last year to one count of conspiracy to obstruct, delay and affect commerce by robbery; one count of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence; and one count of attempted car-jacking. U.S. District Judge Virginia M. Kendall imposed the 376-month sentence in federal court in Chicago.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter M. Flanagan said Brown was "the mastermind of a multi-week campaign of armed violence." Flanagan argued in the government’s sentencing memorandum that Brown "organized a crew that threatened numerous people with guns."

Brown admitted in a plea agreement that he and his crew robbed Thornton’s Gas Station in Forest Park on Sept. 24, 2012. During the robbery, another member of the crew, PARIS 2

STARWALT, pistol-whipped a customer over the head. The robbery netted the crew $500 and two cartons of cigarettes.

The first jewelry heist occurred the following day at Arab Jewelry in the East Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago. Brown, Starwalt and a third member of the crew, FELICE DESILVIA, took about $200,000 worth of diamonds and jewelry. During the robbery, DeSilvia duct-taped a store employee to a chair to prevent him from running away.

The following week, Brown and DeSilvia attempted to rob Lake Forest Jewelers in Lake Forest. Shortly after the pair entered the store armed with concealed handguns, an employee walked outside to place a call on his cellphone. Fearing that the employee was calling the police, Brown and DeSilvia abandoned their plans and exited the store.

On Oct. 8, 2012, Brown, Starwalt and DeSilvia robbed Bryn Mawr Jewelry in the Edgewater neighborhood of Chicago. Starwalt held two employees at gunpoint while Brown and DeSilvia collected $120,000 worth of loose diamonds and jewelry. After Brown and Starwalt exited the store, they attempted to car-jack a woman at gunpoint in a nearby garage. The woman screamed and bit Starwalt on the arm and hands, causing her and Starwalt to fall to the ground. Brown and Starwalt ran off and were quickly apprehended by Chicago Police officers.

Starwalt, of Mattoon, Ill., pleaded guilty in 2014 to the same charges as Brown. His sentencing hearing is set for April 1, 2016, at 1:00 p.m., before Judge Kendall.

DeSilvia, of Chicago, pleaded guilty in 2014 to one count of conspiracy to obstruct, delay and affect commerce by robbery; and one count of using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Her sentencing hearing before Judge Kendall will be scheduled at a later date.

Brown’s sentence was announced by Zachary T. Fardon, United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; Jeffery Magee, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Division of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Chicago Police Acting Superintendent John Escalante; and Cook County State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez.3

The government is represented by Mr. Flanagan.

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Field Division: Chicago Field Division