On Wednesday, August 29 a federal grand jury indicted two Tuscaloosa men in connection to a series of armed store robberies in Tuscaloosa County between December 2017 and April 2018. The indictments were announced by U.S. Attorney Jay E. Town and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Special Agent in Charge Marcus Watson.
A nine-count indictment was filed in U.S. District Court charging Jose Antonio Brown, age 34, and Kelvin Quntavius Thomas, age 28, with robbing a Chevron convenience store and three Dollar General stores, as well as employees at the stores at the time of the robberies. The indictment also charges that Brown and Thomas with either brandishing or discharging firearms during the robberies, and charges Brown as a convicted felon illegally possessing a firearm.
“The safety of many innocent people was threatened during this string of armed store robberies in Tuscaloosa County,” Town said. “Thanks to a combined investigation by local investigators and the ATF, coupled with the bravery of a Tuscaloosa County Deputy Sheriff in apprehending these men, these defendants have been charged with federal crimes and will be brought to account in federal court.”
“ATF’s Crime Gun Intelligence focuses on reducing violent crime and disrupting the shooting cycle that negatively impacts our neighborhoods,” Watson said. “The priority of protecting the public is evident with these indictments.”
The indictment charges Brown and Thomas with Hobbs Act robberies at the following stores: the Chevron convenience store, 7836 Alabama Highway 69 South in Tuscaloosa, on December 24, 2017; the Dollar General at 4419 U.S. Highway 43 in Northport, on January 23, 2018; the Dollar General at 6520 Hargrove Road, in Tuscaloosa on Jan. 30, 2018; and the Dollar General at 11573 U.S. Highway 82 East in Duncanville on April 2, 2018.
The Hobbs Act prohibits actual or attempted robbery that affects interstate commerce and that involves the taking of property from another person by means of actual or threatened force or violence. The maximum penalty for Hobbs Act robbery is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The maximum penalty for being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
The charge of carrying, brandishing or discharging a firearm during a crime of violence carries varying penalties. The penalty for someone previously convicted of a gun crime is a minimum 25 years in prison.
The penalties for someone without a prior gun crime conviction are a minimum 10 years for discharging a gun, seven years for brandishing a gun and five years for carrying a gun. Each count also carries a $250,000 fine upon conviction.
The ATF investigated the case, along with the Tuscaloosa County Sheriff’s Department, the Tuscaloosa Police Department and the Northport Police Department.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Melissa K. Atwood is prosecuting the case.
Jose Brown and Kelvin Thomas have merely been indicted. An indictment is an accusation. All persons are presumed innocent until found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt by a jury of their peers. Both Brown and Thomas will have an opportunity to present their case in court.