A federal grand jury indicted three Long Beach men Wednesday who allegedly participated in the daylight smash-and-grab robbery of a Beverly Hills jewelry store in which more than $2.6 million worth of merchandise was stolen.
The two-count indictment returned in Los Angeles charges Jimmy Lee Vernon III, 31, Ladell Tharpe, 37, and Deshon Bell, 20, with conspiracy and interference with commerce by robbery, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
On March 23, the defendants and other co-conspirators drove in tandem in three vehicles from Long Beach to Beverly Hills, according to the indictment.
Once at the jewelry store, Vernon and co-conspirators allegedly got out of a Kia vehicle, smashed the exterior glass cases multiple times, then stole merchandise worth at least $2.67 million, prosecutors said.
Vernon and the others then ran out of the store to a nearby alley, leaving behind their Kia — which had been reported stolen out of Long Beach four days before the robbery, according to an affidavit filed with a criminal complaint in L.A. federal court.
During the robbery, Vernon’s cell phone fell out of his sweatpants pocket while he smashed the jewelry’s store’s window, was left behind and later recovered by law enforcement, the affidavit states.
Bell allegedly waited in a car near the store and served as the getaway driver for Vernon and the other co-conspirators.
The defendants allegedly stole property consisting of 19 bracelets, seven pairs of earrings, four necklaces, a pair of obelisks, eight rings and 20 watches, federal prosecutors said.
On March 25, Tharpe posted on his Instagram account numerous photographs that included large stacks of money and a message praising his “robbery gang,” according to the indictment.
Law enforcement arrested the defendants last month.
Vernon is in federal custody and was ordered jailed without bond, with his arraignment scheduled for Oct. 13. Tharpe is in state custody and is expected to be remanded to federal custody in the coming weeks. Bell was released on $15,000 bond and his arraignment in federal court is scheduled for Oct. 20.
A juvenile, who is not charged in the federal indictment, also was arrested in connection with the robbery, and is charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with commercial burglary.
If convicted of both charges, each defendant would face up to 20 years in federal prison for each count, prosecutors noted.