Friday, September 20, 2013

Federal jury returns guilty convictions in carjacking ring

Two Detroit men and a Redford Township man were found guilty yesterday by a federal jury in Detroit on 20 counts in a case involving armed carjacking to support a chop shop, U.S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced today.

McQuade was joined in the announcement by Acting Special Agent in Charge John Robert Shoup of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chief James Craig of the Detroit Police Department, Colonel Kriste Kibbey Etue of the Michigan State Police, and Special Agent in Charge William Hayes of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The jury convicted Frank Harper, age 29, of Detroit, Phillip Harper, age 25, of Detroit, and Bernard Edmond, age 46, of Redford Township. The three-week trial was conducted before U.S. District Judge George Caram Steeh.

The evidence presented at trial established that the defendants conspired with several others to steal high-end vehicles, many by committing armed carjacking, and then to retag the vehicles for sale. Edmond would purchase the stolen vehicles from the Harper brothers and others after the thefts. He would then alter the vehicle identification numbers of the stolen vehicles to conceal the fact that the vehicles had been stolen. Edmond would also create false documents to file with the secretary of state and then sell the vehicles to unwitting buyers in Michigan and other states. Edmond created a market for the stolen vehicles by informing the Harpers and others of his desire to buy these stolen vehicles.

The Harper brothers committed several carjackings and other auto thefts. For example, on October 14, 2010, Phillip Harper and others brandished firearms to steal a Cadillac Escalade, a GMC Yukon, a Chyrsler Aspen, and a Mercury Milan from the Elysium Night Club in downtown Detroit. On January 25, 2011, Frank Harper and others carjacked a Mercedes S550 from a person at the intersection of Atwater and Joseph Campau streets in Detroit. On January 31, 2011, the Harper brothers and another used a firearm to carjack three vehicles from a person on Joseph Campau Street in Detroit. On February 22, 2011, the Harper brothers and others carjacked three high-end vehicles from the valet at Opus One restaurant in Detroit. On March 20, 2011, Philip Harper and others carjacked a Lexus 460 near Club Vain in Detroit. Many of these and other vehicles were intended for Bernard Edmund to retag and sell.

Co-defendants Justin Bowman, Stratford Newton, and Darrell Young have each pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing.

Phillip Harper faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 80 years in federal prison, and Frank Harper and Bernard Edmond are facing a mandatory minimum sentence of 55 years in federal prison. A sentencing date will be set by the court.

In a prepared statement, McQuade said, “Armed carjacking poses an unacceptable danger to public safety and creates a climate of fear for residents in our community. Although these convictions bring with them severe sentences, we think they are appropriate for such serious and pervasive crimes. We hope that these convictions will deter others from committing similar crimes that wreak havoc in our neighborhoods.”

Acting FBI Special Agent in Charge Shoup added, “This case stands as a superb example of the fine collaborative work being done by the FBI, Homeland Security Investigations, and the Detroit Police Department. FBI thanks the Assistant United States Attorneys who handled this case for the excellent work that they did in bringing justice to those who would prey on our society.”

Chief Craig thanked all law enforcement agencies involved by saying, “Thank you to all involved who dismantled this Detroit carjacking ring. This is another opportunity for the Detroit Police Department to work with our partners to help reduce carjacking crimes, which is one of the department’s top priorities.”

The case was investigated by special agents of the FBI and Homeland Security Investigations as well as officers from the Detroit Police Department and Michigan State Police.

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