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Judge: George L. Russell, III
Court: United States District Court for the District of Maryland (Baltimore County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: United States Attorney’s Office in Balitmore
Description: Baltimore, Maryland criminal defense lawyer represented Defendant charged with for conspiracy to commit a Hobbs Act robbery and for using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a weapon during and in relation to a crime of violence.
On September 29, 2020, George Fields, a/k/a “Chin,” age 49, of Baltimore, Maryland, and co-defendants Joseph Williams and Deron Johnson conspired to rob a 16-year-old of drugs and drug proceeds. Specifically, at approximately 4:24 a.m., Johnson and the victim pulled into the parking lot of a hotel in the 6500 block of Frankford Avenue in Baltimore, where Williams had been staying for several months, selling drugs under a fictitious name. Johnson was working as a “hack” driver and gave the victim a ride to the hotel on the ruse that the victim would be selling drugs to Fields and Williams.
As detailed in the plea agreements, Fields and Williams approached Johnson’s van and Fields held out money as though he was ready to make a purchase. Fields and Williams then began robbing the victim while Johnson walked to the rear of the van and smoked. Fields admitted that he pinned the victim down in the front passenger seat of the van and went through his pockets. The victim struggled, flailing his arms and legs. Williams admitted that he then pulled out a handgun and fired a single shot into the victim’s chest at close range. The victim stumbled away from the van and collapsed on the ground. Johnson, Fields, and Williams then got into the van and drove away. A hotel surveillance camera captured the entire incident. The victim died later that day after being taken to the hospital. No drugs, money, or cell phone were recovered from the victim’s personal effects.
Later that morning, the conspirators returned to the hotel in Johnson’s van, while police were still processing the scene. Fields, Williams, and Johnson entered the hotel together. Police recognized the van from the hotel surveillance footage and towed the van and detained Johnson. A search warrant was executed on the van and law enforcement recovered a single bullet from the front row carpet. On October 1, 2020, Johnson’s phone was searched and was found to contain evidence of the plan to rob the victim, including text messages between Johnson and Williams, a record of phone calls between Johnson and the victim, a photograph of Johnson with Fields and Williams, and Fields’ contact information was in Johnson’s contacts.
Joseph Williams, a/k/a “Blue,” age 33, of Baltimore, previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in federal prison and up to life in prison for using, carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and a maximum of 20 years in federal prison for the robbery conspiracy. Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing for Williams on July 7, 2023, at 9:30 a.m.
On May 24, 2023, co-defendant Deron Johnson, a/k/a “DJ,” age 52, of Baltimore, pleaded guilty to the conspiracy and to committing the robbery. Johnson and the government have agreed that, if the Court accepts the plea agreement, Johnson will be sentenced to at between 15 and 20 years in federal prison. Judge Russell has scheduled sentencing for Johnson on September 6, 2023, at 11:00 a.m.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (“PSN”), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and gun violence, and to make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. On May 26, 2021, the Department launched a violent crime reduction strategy strengthening PSN based on these core principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community-based organizations that help prevent violence from occurring in the first place, setting focused and strategic enforcement priorities, and measuring the results.
United States Attorney Erek L. Barron commended the FBI and the Baltimore Police Department for their work in the investigation. Mr. Barron thanked Assistant U.S. Attorney Kim Y. Oldham, who is prosecuting the case.
Outcome: Defendant was sentenced to to 25 years in federal prison, followed by five years of supervised release.