Over the course of 19 days in early 2020, a group of men armed with weapons that looked like semi-automatic pistols robbed or attempted to rob employees of 11 cellphone stores in San Diego, Lemon Grove, National City and Rancho San Diego.
But there was a local cell phone store owner who didn’t have to worry about being targeted by bandits – he was the one buying the stolen devices.
His employer, Adde Munin Adde, pleaded guilty Thursday in a San Diego federal courtroom to three counts of stolen property related to the theft spree, according to prosecutors, who said he also agreed to pay nearly $60,000 in compensation.
Addy was the seventh defendant to plead guilty to the charges related to the series of robberies, which ran from January 14 to February 1. Others admitted to playing different roles, from a young man who worked as a getaway driver in one of the provinces. For others who admitted to carrying out robberies armed with weapons, investigators later learned they were pellet pistols.
Federal prosecutors did not name the store that Adde owned, and it was not identified in court records relating to the case. But US Attorney General Randy Grossman said pawn shop owners and others who sell cellphones, jewelry and other commonly stolen items “should be aware” of Addy’s conviction.
“When you buy stolen goods, you create a market for those who obtain them by violent means,” Grossman said in a press release. “We will prosecute you with the perpetrators of violent crimes.”
Addy’s attorney, Thomas Matthews, said his client had never had problems with the law and “accepted full responsibility for the purchase and distribution” of the stolen phones.
“His poor judgment was due to severe personal financial hardship caused by the declining market for independently owned cell phone repair shops (and) mothers … along with his financial obligations to provide for his six children,” Matthews told Union-Tribune in an email. “He’s looking to put this behind him.”
According to the sentencing memorandum written by the lawyer of one of the defendants, two of the six men involved in the operation “planned and orchestrated the robberies” and were also responsible for fencing off the stolen goods in Addy.
The spree began on January 14 when a single armed suspect stole 25 iPhones from a Verizon Wireless store in Rancho San Diego, according to the indictment and information provided at the time by the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department. Four days later, a crew member robbed an employee of another Verizon Wireless store in the College Grove Shopping Center in San Diego.
The spree continued two days later at a Verizon store on Palm Street in Lemon Grove, according to the indictment. One week later, on January 27, the same Lemon Grove store was seized by bandits.
Three days later, the pace intensified.
On January 30, thieves stopped two businesses on the same night in National City — one a Verizon store on Sweetwater Road, and the other a Sprint store two miles away on Highland Street, according to the indictment. The following night, one of the defendants attempted to rob a Verizon store in Hillcrest, but escaped after a dog was discovered inside the business, San Diego police said at the time.
Later that night, they robbed a T-Mobile store about five miles away in the El Cerrito neighborhood, according to the indictment and police. Officers tracked the getaway car to South Bay that night and arrested three people suspected of participating in the T-Mobile heist.
The final thefts occurred one night later, on February 1, when two men seized a Verizon store in National City and another Verizon store in Mira Mesa. The indictment mirrors the previous night’s arrests, as it included only two defendants who played a role in the recent burglaries.
Five of the accused of theft were sentenced to prison terms ranging from just over two years to 7 and a half years. One of the accused of theft is awaiting verdict. Addy is due to be sentenced in January.
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