Amy Brocato Pearson
Jacksonville Daily Progress
A two-year investigation has culminated in the indictment of four Jacksonville men who were arrested under suspicion of participation in a violent crime spree that targeted area businesses in the Eastern District of Texas, according to U.S. Attorney John M. Bales.
Jonathan Roshard Brown, 21, Maurice Deshun Jones, 30, Willie Duane Rogers, 24, and Michael Dangelio Johnson, 25, were named in an 8-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury on Apr. 24, court documents show.
The defendants will be arraigned on Wednesday before U.S. Magistrate Judge Judith Guthrie.
"I'm extremely pleased all our hard work has paid off," said Jacksonville Police Chief Reece Daniel on Monday afternoon. "Our men worked diligently in conjunction with the FBI and the county on this."
Two of then men were already in custody in Cherokee County Jail and the other two were apprehended Sunday near Bullard, Daniel said.
The indictment alleges that beginning on Oc.2, 2011, Brown, Jones, Rogers and Johnson conspired together to commit robbery, which unlawfully obstructed, delayed and affected commerce in violation of federal law. The defendants are specifically alleged to have committed four armed robberies in Jacksonville during this crime spree which began on October 2, 2011 when Brown, Jones and Rogers stole $9,465 from the Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville. On May 25, 2012, Rogers and Jones were stopped for a traffic violation in Jacksonville. Rogers was arrested for driving without a valid driver license and Jones was arrested for being a felon in possession of a firearm. A loaded handgun was found protruding from underneath the front passenger seat of the vehicle. On Nov. 2, 1012, Brown, Jones and Rogers robbed the Razorback Grocery on Hwy 69 in Jacksonville. Brown brandished a handgun and demanded money from the owner. Razorback Grocery suffered a loss of approximately $16,000 in cash and $6,900 in Texas lottery tickets. On Nov.16, 2012, Brown, Jones, Rogers and Johnson again robbed the owner of the Razorback Grocery while he was waiting int eh commercial drive-thru line at the Austin Bank on West Commerce Street in Jacksonville. During the robbery Brown fired a handgun, striking the victim. The bullet passed through the victim’s hand, throat and shoulder. The victim survived after being airlifted to a Tyler hospital. The defendants obtained an undetermined amount of cash from the victim’s vehicle. The armed robbery resulted in the closure of Razorback Grocery and the temporary closure of Austin Bank. On Nov. 23, 2012, Brown and jones attempted to rob the owner of the Fast Fuel on Hwy 69 in Jacksonville. The owner was able to strike Brown and flee. From March 19 to March 23, Rogers, through a series of telephone calls recorded by law enforcement, attempted to bribe a witness in the investigation by offering a payment in exchange for the witness recanting a statement to investigators.
"We now have 37 individuals we're taken down and charged with offenses on the federal level," Daniel said. "That's not a bad record for fighting these gang-type situations as part of our ongoing efforts with federal authorities to take out some of the more serious criminals we have here in the city and in the county."
The task force between the Jacksonville police department, FBI and Cherokee County District Attorney's office is part of the federal Safe Streets Task Force of "Project Safe Neighborhood."
"I'm very happy with how this happened," Daniel said. "Our men have spent their nights and weekends for the benefit of this city and entire county and it's really paying off."