Tony Johnson / photo from Deerfield police
Updated: March 10, 2014 6:38AM
Alleged ringleaders from Hazel Crest and Park Forest are among seven men facing federal charges for a string of at least six armed robberies of cellphone stores in Illinois and Indiana, prosecutors said Friday.
Eric Rogers, 39, of Hazel Crest; and Eric Curtis, 29, of Park Forest, directed six other men in the series of robberies that took place in 2013, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Rogers and Curtis would select stores to rob, then recruit other men and supply them with guns, prosecutors said. They would then commit the robberies with different combinations of the others.
The men allegedly robbed cellphone stores last year in Addison, Norridge, Deerfield, Woodridge, La Porte, Ind.; and East Peoria.
Rogers and Curtis were arrested in December after the Woodridge robbery, and each was charged with one count of robbery conspiracy, three counts of robbery and two counts of brandishing a firearm. Curtis also was charged as a felon in possession of a firearm, according to prosecutors.
Chicago residents Marcus Harris, 20, and Daniel Wright, 28, were charged with one count each of felony robbery and brandishing a firearm. Lavell Hughes, 41, of Gary; and Tony Johnson, 20, and Andre Wadlington-Anthony, 27, both of Harvey, were charged with two counts each of each of those crimes.
An eighth suspect, Ryan Rogers, a cousin of Eric Rogers, took part in the string of robberies but was shot and killed by a Chicago police officer after the March 19 robbery in Norridge, according to prosecutors.
In that case, the seven men met at Ryan Rogers’ apartment, then traveled in two cars to the AT&T store at 4155 N. Harlem Ave. in Norridge, the FBI said at the time. They robbed the store at gunpoint, getting away with about 100 phones and tablets valued at about $54,000, officials said.
After the robbery, Chicago police went to the home in Hazel Crest, believing Ryan Rogers and Eric Rogers were involved in the heist. Ryan Rogers was shot and killed after accelerating a vehicle toward an officer who was trying to stop him, the FBI said.
Each robbery count carries up to 20 years in prison, while brandishing a firearm carries a maximum of life in prison, prosecutors said.
Sun-Times Media Wire