Grand jury indictments against 31 alleged gang members facing 93 total felony counts — including home invasion robbery, elder abuse and torture — were unsealed Monday as two-thirds of the defendants pleaded not guilty to participating in a burglary ring targeting elderly and Asian victims.
Eight other cases against some of the defendants — including for alleged burglarizing the homes of Los Angeles-area celebrities and athletes, including singer Rihanna, then-Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods — are superseded by the indictments.
A pretrial hearing is set for April 5 downtown.
Six separate indictments were issued with counts including criminal street gang conspiracy; home invasion robbery; first-degree residential burglary; first-degree residential robbery; first-degree burglary, person present; elder abuse; torture; and mayhem, according to the District Attorney’s Office. Defendants are also facing gang and gun allegations.
Tyress Williams, 19, was initially arrested Sept. 28 by Los Angeles police and charged in connection with those celebrity break-ins, while three other people were released from jail after prosecutors asked Los Angeles police to conduct further investigation.
Police said Williams was picked up after a traffic stop in South Los Angeles revealed a firearm and items believed to have been taken from burglarized homes.
Detectives originally thought the burglaries targeting actors, producers musicians and professional athletes were set up at random but later discovered the homes were selected based on social media posting and tour and travel schedules.
The burglaries followed a pattern called “flocking,” whereby suspects flock to celebrities’ neighborhoods, dressing in nice clothes and driving luxury vehicles to avoid suspicion as they search for targets. They would then change into casual clothing, including hoodies, and use a larger vehicle to haul away stolen items.
One suspect would typically knock or ring a doorbell to check if anyone was home before breaking into a residence, according to police.
While those alleged crimes were designed to take place when no one was at home, prosecutors said the ring sometimes attacked other victims.
Prosecutors allege the burglary ring worked from October 2017 through December 2018 and hit 69 victims at residential properties from Santa Monica and Beverly Hills to communities in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
The majority of cases targeted elderly and Asian residents, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The defendants arraigned Monday include:
— Hassan Murphy, 19, of Hawthorne;
— Jshawne Lamon Daniels, 20, of Los Angeles;
— Damaji Corey Hall, 19, of Los Angeles;
— Lance Williams, 19, of Los Angeles;
— Dekell Wright, 22, of Compton;
— Elan Lamberto Gabourel, 25, of Hawthorne;
— Tyress Williams, 19, of Van Nuys;
— Joseph Holley, 23, of Bellflower;
— Demonte Jordan Sears, 23, of Los Angeles;
— Anthonyo Sanders, 20, of Los Angeles;
— Kimya Wilson, 21, of Los Angeles;
— Deanthony Lamart Chatman, 27, of Inglewood;
— Deondra Devon Johnson, 24, of Los Angeles;
— Akeem F. Lauriano, 28, of Lomita;
— Scotty Richardson, 30, of Los Angeles;
— Verlton Glaspie, 19, of Los Angeles;
— Brandon Laititi, 25, of Carson;
— Ron Simmons, 20, of Los Angeles;
— Eric Harris, 20, of Gardena;
— Donnie Faizon, 22, of Los Angeles;
— Devin Garner, 25, of Los Angeles; and
— Tyshon McKinney, 20, of Los Angeles.
The nine other defendants charged in the indictments were not yet in custody.
If convicted as charged, all of the defendants face a possible maximum sentence of life in state prison.
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