A federal judge in Alabama sentenced two Birmingham men to prison for their participation in a series of violent robberies between December 2009 and March 2010 that included Diamond World and Cash America. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler sentenced Antoine Jamar Harper to 39 years and three months in prison and Aaron Thomas was given a sentence of nearly 73 years.
Harper, 29, pleaded guilty in September to an armed robbery of a Diamond World jewelry store, a Cash America store and for attempting to rob a branch of the BB&T Bank. Harper also pleaded guilty to brandishing a gun during a crime of violence at both the Diamond World heist and the attempted BB&T robbery.
Thomas, 34, pled guilty to the Cash America and the attempted bank robbery. In addition, he pleaded guilty to armed robberies of a Shoe Show store, a Church’s Chicken and for discharging a firearm during a crime of violence at the Shoe Show.
Harper and Thomas had been indicted along with Omari Elliot, 30, Derrick Craig, 28, and Kendra Neshell Bowie, 27, in February 2011. Elliot was convicted in separate trials for the armed robbery of the Diamond World and for armed robbery and using a firearm during a crime of violence in the March 2010 Cash America robbery. He is scheduled for sentencing January 25.
Craig and Bowie were charged in connection with the Diamond World robbery. Bowie pleaded guilty to being an accessory after the fact and was sentenced in December to 26 months in prison. Craig pleaded guilty in August 2011 to the Diamond World robbery and will face sentencing January 25.
The five defendants were charged together in the case that involved the series of crimes that were similar in nature, occurred within a short time frame and were part of a larger scheme. Thomas was charged in five robberies; Harper in four; Elliot in two and Craig and Bowie in one.
The ATF, FBI, and the Birmingham and Hoover police departments investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph P. Montminy and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Chris Johnson prosecuted the offenses committed by Harper. Assistant U.S. Attorney Enid Dean Athanas assisted Montminy with the Thomas prosecution.