DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Eastern District of Virginia

For Immediate Release

Thursday, January 9, 2020
G. Zachary Terwilliger
, United States Attorney
Contact: Joshua Stueve

Man Sentenced for Armed Robbery and Armed Drug Trafficking

RICHMOND, Va. – A Norfolk man was sentenced today to 28 years in prison for robbery affecting commerce, using, carrying, brandishing a firearm during the robbery, and three separate instances of armed drug trafficking.  

According to court documents, Tajh Rodgers, 30, previously pleaded guilty for working with an accomplice to commit a violent armed robbery of a Sprint Store in Colonial Heights in January 2019.  During the robbery, Rodgers and his co-conspirator held two employees hostage in the back of the store at gunpoint, and attempted to tie up the employees and threatened to kill them if they notified police. Due to a time-delay lock on the store’s safe, the robbers had to wait several minutes for the safe to open, and a customer entered the store. The robbers let one of the employees go to assist the customer, along with a warning that the employee would be killed if they tried to alert the customer about the crime. Soon after the customer left, the time-delay lock on the safe opened, allowing the robbers to steal a total of 72 items valued at approximately $25,000. 

The investigation led to the identification of Rodgers as a suspect, as well as his connection to another drug trafficking investigation in Norfolk where the defendant engaged in several armed drug transactions during which he sold fentanyl, crack cocaine, and firearms to cooperating sources. In December 2018, Rodgers sold cocaine base, fentanyl, and a .38 caliber revolver to cooperating sources. A month later, he sold two bundles of fentanyl and a 9mm semi-automatic pistol. During both drug transactions, Rodgers was armed with the same .40 caliber Ruger semi-automatic pistol that he carried during the armed robbery of the Sprint Store.

After identifying Rodgers as the robbery suspect, investigators obtained a search warrant for his residence in Norfolk.  During the search in January 2019, officers recovered the .40 caliber pistol, a loaded semi-automatic pistol, various items connected to the Sprint Store robbery, distribution quantities of fentanyl, marijuana, crack cocaine, and a plastic safe containing a digital scale with suspected narcotics residue and packaging material.

This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) and Project Guardian, the Department of Justice’s signature initiatives to reduce gun violence and enforce federal firearms laws. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. 

Initiated by the Attorney General in the fall of 2019, Project Guardian draws upon the Department’s past successful programs to reduce gun violence; enhances coordination of federal, state, local, and tribal authorities in investigating and prosecuting gun crimes; improves information-sharing by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives when a prohibited individual attempts to purchase a firearm and is denied by the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), to include taking appropriate actions when a prospective purchaser is denied by the NICS for mental health reasons; and ensures that federal resources are directed at the criminals posing the greatest threat to our communities. Click here for more information about Project Guardian.


G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ (ATF) Washington Field Division; Colonel Jeffrey W. Faries, Chief of Colonial Heights Police; Larry D. Boone, Chief of Norfolk Police, made the announcement after Senior U.S. District Judge Robert E. Payne accepted the plea. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Michael Gill, Kenneth Simon, and William B. Jackson are prosecuting the case.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 3:19-cr-111.


Washington Field Division