San Bernardino County man sentenced for cellphone store robberies

A San Bernardino County man was sentenced this week to five years in prison in connection with dozens of cell phone store robberies in Southern California, authorities said.

Tony Tyron Lee Stewart, 22, of Highland was sentenced Thursday to 60 months in prison and ordered to pay $333,122 in damages by Judge John Kronstadt, according to the US District Attorney’s Office. Stewart previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to disrupt trade in connection with 52 robberies of AT&T and T-Mobile stores.

Stewart’s co-conspirators, Rayford Newsome, 21, of Compton, and Jerome Gregory Belser, 21, of San Bernardino, also pleaded guilty to conspiracy to disrupt trade, prosecutors said in a news release. Belser was sentenced to 70 months in federal prison. Newsome is scheduled to be sentenced on January 5, 2023 and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

The robberies, which took place between November 11, 2021 and January 13, 2022, resulted in a loss of about $293,444 and caused about $46,376 in damage, authorities said. The men robbed cell phone stores in San Bernardino, Los Angeles, Ventura, Orange and Kern counties.

The men wore ski masks, broke into stores and smashed display cases with hammers, threatened customers and employees, and stole watches, cellphones and other gadgets, authorities said. Authorities said they fled the store and escaped in a vehicle.

After a robbery on Jan. 15 in Camarillo, the men fled from police officers as they attempted to conduct a traffic stop, authorities said. The chase eventually ended in North Hollywood and the men were arrested.

“Almost every one of these … robberies involved between two and four employees and several customers. Every employee is being forced to return to those places of work, providing customer service and trying to make a living while dealing with the fear and worry that they may be robbed again at work or threatened with a dangerous weapon.” San Bernardino County man sentenced for cellphone store robberies

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