3 found guilty in Tulsa robberies linked to Hoover Crips
BY DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Saturday, February 16, 2013
2/16/13 at 8:00 AM
Three men were found guilty Friday of conspiracy and related federal charges in a series of Tulsa robberies that prosecutors said involved members or "affiliates" of the Hoover Crips.
Vernon James Hill, 27; Dejuan L. Hill, 24; and Deandre Antonio Hopkins, 23, were found guilty by a jury that deliberated for eight hours after a trial that began last month.
The three defendants are among eight Tulsa men who were charged in a July 11 indictment. The other five defendants all pleaded guilty to various charges before the trial began in the Tulsa courtroom of U.S. District Judge James Payne.
The grand jury alleged that, dating to Aug. 26, 2009, the men conspired to rob financial institutions and other businesses, sometimes obtaining large sums of money.
Prosecutors said more than $164,000 was stolen during the Sept. 16, 2011, armed robbery of the Tulsa Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union at 1120 W. 17th St., making it one of the largest heists, if not the largest, of a financial institution in Tulsa history.
Pleaded guilty previously
Christopher Darnell Lewis (from left), Marquis Deron Devers, Dontayne Tiger, James Miller and Kenneth Lee Hopkins: The grand jury alleged that the men conspired to rob financial institutions and other businesses.
The robberies featured a varying cast of characters, leading defense attorneys to claim that there was no vast conspiracy among the defendants. Although not conceding their clients' guilt, they argued that - if anything - there might have been small conspiracies regarding individual robberies but not one over-arching plot.
However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Joel-lyn McCormick told the court that the law does not require that each defendant take part in, or even have knowledge of, each robbery to be found guilty of conspiracy.
"It's one conspiracy," McCormick insisted to the jurors.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Dennis Fries told the jurors that the conspirators had an "all for one and one for all" mentality and refined their techniques over time to avoid detection.
"They got it down to a science," he said.
McCormick also said the evidence of the defendants' gang involvement was not introduced to "muddy up" the defendants but instead acted as proof of their involvement in the conspiracy. Fries said the motive behind the plot was "to make money to support the Hoover Crips."
Besides the conspiracy count, the jury found Vernon Hill guilty of the Aug. 26, 2009, robbery of the IBC Bank at 4202 S. Garnett Road and of playing a part in the Aug. 13, 2011, robbery of Metro Pharmacy and Medical Supplies, 575 E. 36th St. North, as well as a gun crime linked to the latter robbery.
Vernon Hill had been sentenced in October to 13 1/2 years in prison for his involvement in the Nov. 5, 2011, armed robbery of the Arvest Bank at 218 S. Memorial Drive, during which nearly $87,000 was taken.
On Friday, Dejuan Hill was found guilty of taking part in that same bank heist, as well as a related firearm charge and the conspiracy count.
Hopkins was found guilty Friday of having participated in the August 2011 robbery of Metro Pharmacy and Medical Supplies as well as the September 2011 armed robbery of the Tulsa Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union. He also was convicted of two related firearm charges and the conspiracy count.
Hopkins had been found guilty May 30 of taking part in the May 7, 2010, robbery of the T. Roy Barnes Drugry, 9757 E. 31st St., a crime to which he was linked by DNA evidence from clothing found in a vehicle that was stolen from a store employee.
He was sentenced in September to 12 years in prison for that robbery.
Christopher Darnell Lewis, 23, pleaded guilty Jan. 22 to his part in the credit union robbery. He admitted that he shot out a plexiglass window that separated the tellers from the customers. No one was hit by the shot.
Marquis Deron Devers, 24; Dontayne Tiger, 22; and James "Mill Ticcet" Miller, 24, also pleaded guilty in January to their roles in the September 2011 Tulsa Municipal Employees Federal Credit Union robbery.
Kenneth Lee Hopkins, 23, pleaded guilty Jan. 17 to playing a part in the Feb. 13, 2010 robbery at Pittman's Dooley Pharmacy at 4120 S. 25th West Ave.
The eight defendants in the conspiracy case, including the three convicted Friday, are awaiting sentencing.
Duncan Eric Herron II, 25, was not charged in the July 11 version of the indictment but was charged in an earlier version of the charges filed in March.
Herron was sentenced in November to three years and four months in prison after he pleaded guilty July 31 to his role in the Metro Pharmacy and Medical Supplies robbery.
Original Print Headline: 3 found guilty in robbery spree
David Harper 918-581-8359
Vernon James Hill (from left), Dejuan L. Hill and Deandre Antonio Hopkins: They are among eight Tulsa men who were charged in a July 11 indictment.