By Michelle Graff
Philadelphia--The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced recently that it is bringing an indictment against eight Philadelphia men allegedly involved in a series of violent smash-and-grab robberies in the Northeast over the past few years.

The robberies took place between July 2011 and November 2012 and included merchandise valued at more than $3.5 million total. The suspects hit stores across Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

According to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Darrell Williams, 43, David Story, 45, Rufus Lawson, 47, Kenneth L. Williams, 51, Anthony Lockwood, 36, and 41-year-old Derrick Sherrill, all of Philadelphia, are being charged with conspiracy to commit robbery that interferes with interstate commerce.

They are also charged, along with 21-year-old Brian Sheed and Amin Abdur-Rahe Shabazz, 22, with robbery interfering with interstate commerce. Story, Lawson, Lockwood, Darrell Williams and Kenneth Williams also face charges of carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to federal authorities, the robberies began in July 2011 with the Tourneau store in King of Prussia, Pa., where the suspects allegedly smashed the cases with hammers and stole $500,000 in Rolex watches. The robberies continued for more than a year, hitting additional stores including Govberg Jewelers and Bernie Robbins Jewelry in Pennsylvania, and Jay Roberts Jewelers and Hamilton Jewelers in New Jersey.

6ABC News in Philadelphia reports that none of the stolen jewels have been recovered.

Four of the defendants face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted, and the others face mandatory minimum sentences of seven to 57 years.

Though the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania did not provide a comment about the indictment, a spokeswoman did confirm to National Jeweler that all defendants except two are in either local or federal custody. Sheed and Shabazz are out on bail.

This case is being investigated by the FBI Violent Crimes Task Force and the Philadelphia Police Department, among others, and is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas M. Zaleski.

“The diamond, jewelry and watch industry owes a great deal of thanks to these agencies for their excellent work and these important arrests,” the Jewelers’ Security Alliance said in an email statement sent out Monday.

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