For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
, United States Attorney
James P. Kennedy, Jr.
Contact: Barbara Burns
Rochester Man Pleads Guilty to Robbery and Weapons Charges
New York Field Division
ROCHESTER, N.Y.- Acting U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Joseph Lowry, 21, of Rochester, NY, pleaded guilty to Hobbs Act robbery and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence before U.S. District Judge Charles J. Siragusa for his role in the August 10, 2015, armed robbery of the 7-Eleven Convenience store at 1469 Lake Avenue in Rochester.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Douglas E. Gregory, who is handling the case, alleged in a previously filed complaint that Lowry and co-defendant Johnny Blackshell entered the 7-Eleven store intending to steal cash and goods. After entering the store, the defendant jumped over the service desk and ordered the employees to the ground. Blackshell pointed a silver handgun at the victim’s head and instructed the victim to open the cash register. The victim opened the cash register, which contained approximately $80 in U.S. currency, and Lowry removed the money. In addition to the money, the defendant and Blackshell took an unknown quantity of cigarettes, tobacco, chewing gum and numerous rolls of scratch-off lottery tickets. Lowry and Blackshell then ran out of the store east toward Lake Avenue. Several of the stolen lottery tickets were redeemed by the defendant and others until the New York Lottery was able to invalidate the stolen tickets.
In addition to the charges related to the convenience store robbery, Lowry also pleaded guilty to possession of a stolen firearm. That charge related to a separate incident, which occurred on August 1, 2015—roughly a week-and-a-half before the 7-Eleven robbery—during which Lowry was found to possess a stolen shotgun. In that regard, on July 29, 2015, Rochester Police officers responded to 1070 Lake Avenue for a report of a burglary occurring at the residence. A resident told officers that intruders entered the house and stole a gun safe that contained three firearms including an AK-47 rifle, a .40 caliber rifle and a 12-gauge shotgun. Subsequently, on August 1, 2015, officers responded to Lowry’s residence at 33 Phelps Avenue in Rochester on an unrelated call for service. While there, officers observed a 12-gauge shotgun on the front porch of the residence, loaded with one round of ammunition. After tracing the firearm's serial number, investigators determined the gun was one of the three stolen on July 29, 2015, from the Lake Avenue residence. One of the other stolen guns, the AK-47 rifle, was later determined to be the murder weapon used in the shooting at the Rochester Boys and Girls Club on August 19, 2015. Johnny Blackshell was convicted in June 2016 on three counts of First Degree Murder in New York State court in connection with that incident.
Federal charges of Hobbs Act robbery and carrying and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence are still pending against Johnny Blackshell. The fact that a defendant has been charged with a crime is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.
The charges to which Lowry pleaded guilty carry a maximum penalty of life in prison and a fine of $250,000.
Today’s plea is the result of an investigation by the Rochester Police Department, under the direction of Chief Michael Ciminelli, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, under the direction of Special Agent-in-Charge Adam S. Cohen, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, under the direction of Ashan Benedict, Special Agent-in-Charge, New York Field Division.
Sentencing is scheduled for March 9, 2017, at 11:00 a.m. before Judge Siragusa.