Member of 12-person robbery crew that targeted multiple Houston area businesses sentenced to 16 years in prison


HOUSTON – The last person of a 12-person robbery crew has been sentenced to prison for his role in a string of armed jewelry store robberies, announced U.S. Attorney Alamdar S. Hamdani on Monday.

Kenneth Dewayne Cooper, 34, pleaded guilty on Oct. 27, 2017 and was sentenced to 16 years in federal prison - 110 months for the robberies and 84 months for aiding and abetting the use of a firearm during a crime of violence. The sentence will be to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release.

Others previously sentenced include Lontay Lavelle Young, 39, Deshaun Devon Waldrup, 27, Edward Ray Lavergne Jr., 39, Jesse Markise McQueen, 32, Kevin Craig Gray, 38, Louis Jerome Hines, 44, Terry Dwight Washington, 37, Tony Dontrel Young, 32, Barry Lloyd Jones, 30, Ross White-Leonard, 33, and Denzell Devoe Lucious, 31. All are from Houston.

Lontay Young, Tony Young, Waldrup, Lavergne, McQueen, White-Leonard and Jones received respective sentences of 209, 132, 125, 114, 180, 102 and 156 months. Gray and Washington both received 147-month terms, while Hines was ordered to serve 171 months. Lucious was sentenced to 168 months.

“Trafficking in violence and fear, this armed robbery crew targeted a dollar store, a jewelry store in a mall, a furniture store and other similar places where regular families shop every day,” said Hamdani. “This U.S. Attorney’s Office will crack down on this type of violence and will continue to ensure the public safety by doing what we can by fighting for appropriate sentences in federal court to get violent actors off the streets.”

This group conducted at least six robberies over the course of six months at various commercial establishments.

On Oct. 22, 2015, Lontay Young and Hines robbed the Family Dollar store on Wayside in Houston while wearing masks and carrying handguns.

Then, on Jan. 11, 2016, Jones, Cooper, Lucious and McQueen traveled outside of Houston to rob the Ben Bridge Jewelers at Barton Springs Mall in Austin. There, they stole Rolex watches and jewelry.

Less than two weeks later, the same group, along with Tony Young, robbed the Kay Jewelers located at the Houston Premium Outlet Mall. While Jones, Cooper and Young held the employees at gunpoint, Lucious sat outside acting as a lookout. McQueen distracted the security guard while the robbery occurred. They again stole numerous watches and jewelry.

On March 3, 2016, Lontay Young, Washington, Gray and Lavergne also held up the ANF Auto Finance on North Shepherd Drive. They entered the business acting as customers until Gray pulled out a gun. They then stole cash and property of the business, employees and customers.

Lontay Young later proceeded to commit two more robberies. Those included the March 9, 2016, robbery of Cash America Pawn on Jensen Drive with Waldrup and the Affordable Furniture store on the North Freeway on March 17, 2016, along with Jones and White-Leonard.

At the time of the furniture store robbery, authorities arrived on the scene and shots were fired.

All have been and will remain in custody.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms conducted the investigation in conjunction with police departments in Houston and Austin and Harris County Sheriff’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Hanes and Heather Winter are prosecuting the case.

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