Press Release, US Department of Justice-Maryland District
Attempted to Intimidate a Witness During the Trial; Faces a Mandatory Minimum Sentence of 57 Years in Prison for Brandishing a Firearm in Each Robbery
Greenbelt, Maryland – A federal jury convicted James Lorenzo Thomas, Jr., age 32, of Oxon Hill, Maryland, for three counts of armed commercial robbery, three counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. The jury’s verdict was returned on December 3, 2018.
The conviction was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Robert K. Hur; Special Agent in Charge Gordon B. Johnson of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Baltimore Field Office; and Chief Henry P. Stawinski III of the Prince George’s County Police Department.
According to evidence presented at his four-day trial, in less than one hour on April 6, 2017, Thomas and a co-defendant robbed businesses in Camp Springs, Clinton, and District Heights, Maryland. In each robbery the defendants brandished a firearm. In the first two robberies Thomas and his co-defendant stole cash from the business, and in one robbery also took a victim’s cell phone. At the location of their last robbery, a game store, Thomas and his co-defendant stole PS4s, virtual reality headsets, and an Xbox – one of which had a GPS tracker that led the police to the robbers less than 20 minutes after they left the store. The police found Thomas and his co-defendant in the getaway car, surrounded by game consoles and dividing up the cash from the robberies. The gun used in the robberies was also recovered.
During the trial, Thomas also attempted to intimidate a witness to prevent the witness from testifying at trial. As a result, the witness initially would not answer the prosecutor’s questions. After a short recess, the witness did testify. A Deputy U.S. Marshal, who heard the attempted intimidation, subsequently testified at the trial as to what the defendant said to the witness.
Thomas faces a maximum of 20 years in prison for each of the three counts of robbery. He also faces a maximum of life in prison and a minimum mandatory sentence of seven years in prison for the first count, and 25 years in prison for each of the two additional counts of brandishing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, all consecutive to any other sentence imposed. Finally, Thomas faces a maximum of 10 years in prison for being a felon in possession of a firearm. U.S. District Judge Paula Xinis has scheduled sentencing for February 28, 2019, at 1:00 p.m.
Co-defendant Nathan Sergio Latimore, age 33, of Camp Springs, Maryland, previously pleaded guilty to five robberies, including the three he committed with Thomas. Judge Xinis has scheduled sentencing for Latimore on December 10, 2018, at 10:00 a.m.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The U.S. Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of its renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.
United States Attorney Robert K. Hur commended the FBI Cross Border Task Force and the Prince George’s County Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Hur thanked Assistant U.S. Attorneys Timothy F. Hagan, Jr. and Elizabeth G. Wright, who are prosecuting the case.