DETROIT (WWJ) – Authorities say four men who traveled from Philadelphia to rob jewelry stores in West Bloomfield and Grand Rapids have been convicted after a four-week trial.
Nathaniel Pembrook, David Briley, Shaheed Calhoun, and Orlando Johnson were convicted Friday on a variety of armed robbery and firearms charges in connection with the crimes, which took place in the spring of 2014.
Evidence produced at trial showed that all four men lived in Philadelphia and traveled to Michigan on April 21 and 22, 2014, to commit armed robberies of jewelry stores, targeting the Rolex distributors, as part of a six-person robbery crew.
The armed robbery crew initially attempted to steal Rolex watches and other valuables from Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids on April 22. During the attempted robbery, one robber used a hammer to smash the Rolex watch display case while three other robbers, one armed with a gun, rushed the back area of the store looking for other valuables. The store owners, who are registered concealed pistol owners, shot the armed robber and all of the robbers fled without any valuables.
About five hours later, three men, dressed in identical clothes as the robbers in Grand Rapids earlier that day, entered Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry on Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, and held employees and customers at gunpoint as they stole approximately $1.3 million worth of Rolex watches. The men then fled the store without being apprehended.
The FBI, Kent County Sheriff Department, and West Bloomfield Police Department coordinated their investigative efforts and began to piece together evidence to identify the armed robbers.
Investigators discovered that Pembrook checked himself into Pennsylvania Prysberatian Hospital in the early morning hours of April 23 for a gunshot wound. The hospital removed the bullet from Pembrook’s arm and Michigan State Police laboratory personnel were able to match the fired bullet to the Medawars owner’s firearm. DNA analysis of blood was found at the Medawar Jewelers location was matched to Pembrook. Additionally, investigators tracked down video and cell phone information that helped to place all of four men at the robbery locations during the times of the robbery.
“These convictions are a great example of collaboration by law enforcement agencies across state lines,” U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said in a statement. “Criminals sometimes cross state lines to commit their crimes in hopes that no one will recognize them, but investigators in this case were able to use cell phone technology, DNA, surveillance video and other evidence to identify these robbers.”
Pembrook, 43; Briley, 46; Calhoun, 36; and Johnson, 42, were all found guilty of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, interference with interstate commerce by robbery, two counts of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and felon in possession of a firearm.
Law enforcement is still attempting to identify the final two individuals associated with this robbery crew. Anyone with information is urged to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation at 313-965-2323.