I Survived, Part IV of X: Indictment

by David E. Shellenberger on December 13, 2017

“Thou shalt not steal.”
     — Seventh Commandment

On October 3, 2016, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced the indictment of six people in connection with the string of robberies in the crime spree. The crimes included five robberies of commercial establishments —pizza restaurants and a 7-Eleven — between June 9 and July 7, 2016. The spree culminated on July 18 with the invasion of my home and the second robbery of the same 7-Eleven.

The authorities had already arrested not only the three suspects in the crimes involving me but also the three other suspects. All were now defendants in the federal case.

The linked article includes the text of the office’s media release, which I have excerpted:

Armed Robbery Suspects Charged in Federal Court

According to the indictment, the six individuals are charged with participating in a series of armed robberies of businesses and individuals in Albemarle and Greene counties. Three of these individuals are charged in a violent home invasion, abduction and armed carjacking in Albemarle County.

One of the defendants in the crimes against me was also charged in four of the prior robberies. Another was charged in three of these robberies.

Federal criminal laws are more limited than those under state law. Thus, the indictment covered specific conduct by the defendants, not, for instance, the assaults. However, judges consider the circumstances of crimes in sentencing. The charges were serious, and I was glad for the federal prosecution.

The indictment charged violation of the Hobbs Act for the robberies of the businesses. The U.S. Attorneys’ Manual explains that the act “prohibits actual or attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate or foreign commerce ‘in any way or degree.’”

The indictment charged violation of the Carjacking Statute for the robbery of my car:

On or about July 18, 2016, in the Western District of Virginia, [the three defendants] did take a motor vehicle that had been transported, shipped and received in interstate and foreign commerce from VICTIM A by force, violence, and intimidation, with the intent to cause death and serious bodily harm.

“Intent” under the statute is conditional. The Supreme Court has held that the intent is satisfied where a defendant intended to harm or kill the victim if necessary to steal the car.

The grand jury returned a superseding indictment later that month, adding firearms charges. Federal law provides for significant mandatory additional penalties for the use of a firearm in, as relevant to the crime spree, any crime of violence. Subsequent violations are subject to even higher penalties.

Most criminal cases are resolved through plea bargains. These provide certainty, assuring convictions and minimum penalties. As the U.S. Attorneys’ Manual advises, firearms charges facilitate the resolution of cases:

Firearms violations should be aggressively used in prosecuting violent crime. They are generally simple and quick to prove. The mandatory and enhanced punishments for many firearms violations can be used as leverage to gain plea bargaining and cooperation from offenders.


I finally had a buyer for the house. I flew to Connecticut on a day trip to find a rental in Fairfield County, where I had lived in the past. I decided on a unit in Bethel, with its traditional downtown and a train station for trips to New York City.

I made one more trip before the move, to attend Atlas Network’s annual Liberty Forum and Freedom Dinner in New York. I had let the senior leadership of the organization know about the crime and my plan to return to Connecticut. It was good to see the Atlas staff and other friends from around the world who work for liberty. I felt I was among family.

The neighbors took good care of the cats. They knew how concerned I was to be away.

In mid-November, with the house packed up, the cats and I spent two nights at the same hotel in Charlottesville where we had stayed in the aftermath of the crime. On the last night in the area, I had dinner with my neighbors and visited Jonathan and his family to say goodbye.


Part I
Part II
Part III

Part V
Part VI
Part VII

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