Baltimore Man Sentenced to More Than 10 Years in Federal Prison for Conspiring to Rob a Gas Station Owner
Chief U.S. District Judge James K. Bredar ntenced Charvez Deonte Brooks, age 32, of Gwynn Oak, Maryland, to 124 months in federal prison, followed by three years of supervised release, for conspiracy to commit a commercial robbery in connection with the robbery of a gas station owner. Brooks was convicted of that charge on August 20, 2020, after a five-day trial. Brooks has been detained since his arrest.
The sentence was announced by United States Attorney for the District of Maryland Erek L. Barron; Special Agent in Charge Charlie Patterson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Washington Field Division; and Chief Melissa R. Hyatt of the Baltimore County Police Department.
According to testimony at trial and court documents, Brooks and two others conspired to rob a gas station owner. According to court documents, one of the co-conspirators, Jesse James Elder, was a frequent customer of the gas station, located in the 10000 block of Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills, Maryland, and was friendly with the employees, including the owner. On January 16, 2018, video surveillance showed that the owner was already at the gas station when Elder pulled into the parking lot. Elder went inside the gas station to play the lottery, then left the store and waited in his car in the parking lot. Shortly thereafter, the owner placed approximately $17,000 in gas station proceeds into a bank bag and left the store. As the owner walked out, he stopped next to Elder’s vehicle and began talking to Elder. While the owner and Elder were talking, Brooks and co-conspirator Levon Verian Butts approached from a neighboring parking lot and hid behind other parked cars. When the owner walked away from Elder’s vehicle, Butts and Brooks charged the owner, pushed him to the ground, and grabbed the bank bag from his hand.
Witnesses testified that as Brooks and Butts tried to run back to the adjacent parking lot, a bystander who had seen the incident gave chase and tripped Butts, causing him to run out of his shoes, which Butts left in the parking lot. Brooks also dropped some of the money as he was running away. Brooks and Butts made it back to the adjacent parking lot, got into Brooks’ silver Infiniti, and fled the area. According to trial evidence, the bystander followed the vehicle and took two photographs of the car as it fled from the parking lot. Meanwhile, Elder drove around the owner, who was lying motionless in the parking lot, and left the gas station. The evidence presented at trial showed that while Brooks was attempting to get away, he crashed into another car that was waiting at a red light and continued driving to an area near Liberty Road, where he left the Infiniti.
As a result of being pushed to the ground, the owner of the gas station hit his head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious. He was transported to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with multiple skull fractures, a cerebral hemorrhage, and remained in critical condition for several weeks. He suffered a traumatic brain injury and has not returned to normal function.
Baltimore County Police officers responded to the gas station and recovered the money that had been dropped by Brooks along with Butts’ shoes from the gas station parking lot. They also recovered surveillance video from the gas station, a .22-caliber handgun, and additional money in the parking lot near where the Infiniti had been parked. Officers spoke with several witnesses, including the bystander who had taken photos of Brooks’ vehicle, as well as Elder, who provided a false statement. The photograph taken by the bystander of Brooks’ vehicle showed that it had a fraudulent New York license plate and was missing the insignia from the rear of the car. Subsequent testing of the shoes recovered from the robbery found that DNA from the shoes matched Butts’ DNA.
According to court documents and witness testimony, while at the crime scene, Elder remained in contact with Brooks and Butts, via Butts’ cell phone. Brooks, Butts and Elder met later at Reisterstown Plaza, discussed the robbery, the evidence that was, and divided the proceeds from the robbery.
Several months later, Butts and Elder were charged with the robbery. Elder was arrested on May 10, 2018. Five days later Brooks spoke to Elder over a jail phone, which records all inmate calls. During the recorded call, Brooks used coded language to tell Elder not to tell police that Brooks was involved in the robbery.
Investigators later identified Brooks as the third participant in the robbery and he was subsequently charged federally. During the investigation, law enforcement learned that Brooks drove a silver Infiniti with the same unique markings as the getaway vehicle, and that he had access to fraudulent license plates. For example, when Brooks was stopped by Baltimore County police officers for a traffic violation a few months before the robbery, he was driving a silver Infiniti with a missing insignia on the back of the car and a fraudulent temporary Florida license tag. On the day of the robbery, Brooks and Butts were seen arriving at Elder’s house, where Brooks took off his license plate and attached a fraudulent New York tag.
Levon Verian Butts, age 30, of Baltimore, Maryland pleaded guilty to his role in the robbery and was sentenced to 12 years in federal prison. Elder, age 46, of Owings Mills, previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit a commercial robbery and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison. U.S. District Judge Ellen L. Hollander has scheduled sentencing for Elder on December 17, 2021 at 10:30 a.m.