DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Three men face lengthy prison sentences for their roles in a carjacking ring that focused on high-end cars and SUVs and included daring robberies outside Detroit nightspots.
Frank Harper and Phillip Harper, of Detroit, and Bernard Edmond of nearby Redford Township were convicted earlier this week following a three-week jury trial in U.S. District Court in Detroit.
Federal prosecutors said the three men and several others already awaiting sentencing were part of a conspiracy in which some vehicles were taken at gunpoint.
Vehicle identification numbers on the cars and SUVs later were altered, and false documents were created and filed with Michigan’s Secretary of State office. The vehicles then were sold to buyers in Michigan and other states who were not aware the vehicles were stolen.
On more than one occasion, several vehicles were stolen at one time from the same location.
A Cadillac Escalade, GMC Yukon, Chrysler Aspen and Mercury Milan were carjacked on Oct. 14, 2010 from the Elysium Night Club in downtown Detroit. On Jan. 31, 2011, three vehicles were carjacked from Joseph Campau Street on the city’s east side. Less than a month later, three more vehicles were carjacked from the valet at Opus One restaurant.
Investigators said the carjacking ring, known by police as S550, was also responsible for the theft of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s vehicle and an expensive vehicle during the Detroit Auto Show.
Phillip Harper faces at least 80 years in prison, while Frank Harper and Edmond face a minimum of 55 years. A sentencing date has not been scheduled.
“Armed carjacking poses an unacceptable danger to public safety and creates a climate of fear for residents in our community,” U.S. Attorney in Detroit Barbara McQuade said in a release. “Although these convictions bring with them severe sentences, we think they are appropriate for such serious and pervasive crimes. We hope that these convictions will deter others from committing similar crimes that wreak havoc in our neighborhoods.”
Three other men, Justin Bowman, Stratford Newton and Darrell Young, pleaded guilty to their roles in the conspiracy and are awaiting sentencing, authorities said.
The case was investigated by Special Agents of the FBI, officers of the Detroit Police Department, Michigan State Police and Homeland Security Investigations.
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