NORFOLK, Va. – A Chesapeake and a Suffolk man pleaded guilty today and earlier this week to their roles in a series of armed robberies of 7-Eleven establishments in the Cities of Newport News, Norfolk, and Virginia Beach.
According to court documents, just before midnight on July 24, 2019, and into the early morning hours of July 25, 2019, Deric Breon Simons, 23, Ronald Lee Brookins, Jr., 22, and a third individual conducted a series of armed robberies at 7-Eleven convenience stores. Beginning in Newport News, the three men entered the stores armed with a firearm, a knife, and a BB gun that resembled a real firearm. While brandishing their weapons, they demanded U.S. currency and commercial products from frightened employees. They committed three additional robberies, moving between Norfolk and Virginia Beach. During the fifth and final robbery, Brookins and the third co-conspirator entered the convenience store, while Simons remained in the getaway vehicle. In addition to the store employee, there were three customers inside the store at the time of the robbery. Fearing for everyone’s safety, an armed customer discharged his personal weapon, killing one co-conspirator and injuring Brookins.
Brookins pleaded guilty to his role in the robberies on January 24. Simons and Brookins are scheduled to be sentenced on June 1. They both face a mandatory minimum of 21 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; Brian Dugan, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Norfolk Field Office; Steve R. Drew, Chief of Newport News Police; Mike Goldsmith, Interim Chief of Norfolk Police; and Paul Neudigate, Chief of Virginia Beach Police, made the announcement after U.S. Magistrate Judge Douglas E. Miller accepted the plea.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Kristin Bird and Megan Montoya are prosecuting the case.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), which is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 2:19-cr-168.
originally published at HUMAN RIGHTS - USA DAILY NEWS 24