Crime

3 plead guilty in 2013 ‘tiger’ kidnapping case

CrimeDec 18, 2014

3 plead guilty in 2013 ‘tiger’ kidnapping case

Three men have pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from their involvement in a violent kidnapping and jewelry store robbery in April 2013.  

Hartford, Conn.--Three men have pleaded guilty in federal court to charges stemming from their involvement in a violent kidnapping and jewelry store robbery in April 2013.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Connecticut, William Davis, 27, Jeffrey Houston, 28, and 29-year-old Christopher Gay pleaded guilty to one count of interference with commerce by robbery and one count of use of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.

When sentenced, they face a maximum term of imprisonment of 20 years on the robbery charge and a mandatory consecutive term of at least seven years on the firearm charge. Each also faces a restitution order of about $3 million.

The three suspects have been in custody since their arrests in May 2013.

Court documents state that at approximately 9 p.m. on April 11, 2013, at least four men who were wearing masks and gloves--and two of whom were armed with handguns--broke into an apartment in Meriden, Conn., bound four victims with duct tape and covered their heads.

Three suspects then forced two of the victims into a vehicle and drove them to Lenox Jewelers in Fairfield, Conn., where they worked. At the store the perpetrators stole jewelry, watches and loose diamonds valued between $4 and $5 million before fleeing again in the car, leaving the two victims bound inside the store.

RELATED CONTENT: Police investigating kidnapping, robbery in Conn.

These types of crimes--where jewelers or their employees are targeted off-site and then forced to return to the store--are known as “tiger” kidnappings because the perpetrators stalk their victims beforehand, making note of their patterns and habits.  

In their guilty plea, the three men agreed to forfeit gemstones, jewelry, watches and more than $127,000 in cash that was seized from them in May 2013. Houston also agreed to forfeit his vehicle.

The court noted that two other individuals have been charged with participating in the kidnapping and robbery and are awaiting trial.  

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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