United States Attorney Josh J. Minkler announced today a jury in New Albany, Indiana, convicted two Northern Illinois men for a series of cell phone store robberies. Jeffrey A. Kemp, 41, Dolton, Illinois, and Lawrence D Adkinson, 28, Hazel Crest, Illinois, were convicted in federal court before U. S. District Judge Tanya Walton Pratt for their roles as ringleaders of a group of armed robbers who wreaked havoc across the upper Midwest in the summer and fall of 2015. The defendants were convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, conspiracy to brandish a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, robbery, and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
“This group used violence to terrorize retail store employees around the Midwest,” said Minkler. “Putting the safety of shoppers, employees and law enforcement in jeopardy will never be tolerated. They will now be held accountable.”
The investigation began when a T-Mobile store in Clarksville, Indiana, and a Verizon store in Lexington, Kentucky, were robbed at gun point on successive days in July 2015. The investigation led by the FBI and a coalition of state and local law enforcement agencies and offices determined that Kemp and Adkinson led a group of ten men who committed armed robberies of cell phone retailers in various cities and towns in Illinois, including Joliet, Bloomington, Batavia, and DeKalb, and in St. Louis, Missouri, and Waterloo, Iowa, in addition to those in Clarksville, Indiana, and Lexington, Kentucky. The defendants were ultimately arrested in Iowa, while still in possession of phones stolen from many of the other locations.
The robberies were violent in nature. The robbers often held firearms to the faces of the victims before ultimately restraining them in the back rooms of the retail stores. Kemp and Adkinson, as the leaders of the group, provided all the vehicles, guns, and other instrumentalities of the robberies, selected all of the stores to be robbed, and decided who would rob each store. The other eight defendants have all pled guilty for their roles in the offenses.
“These men victimized the Midwest over the course of four months, traumatizing employees who were simply trying to do their jobs and had no idea their ‘customers’ were really violent criminals out do to them harm,” said W. Jay Abbott, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Indianapolis Division. “This conviction is a testament to the dedication of our agents and our partners whose hard work on this investigation ensured this group is no longer a threat to the community.”
According to Assistant United States Attorneys Bradley Shepard and Pamela Domash who prosecuted this case for the government, both defendants face up to life in prison at sentencing. No sentencing date has been set by the court.