District Man Sentenced to 118 Months in Prison For Armed Robberies of Businesses

            WASHINGTON – Ashanti West, 27, of Washington, D.C., was sentenced today to 118 months in prison for carrying out armed robberies of a convenience store and sandwich shop within a two-hour period in the fall of 2019.

            The announcement was made by Acting U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office Criminal Division Wayne A. Jacobs, and Robert J. Contee III, Chief of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

            West is one of three defendants, all from Washington, D.C., who pleaded guilty to federal charges in the robberies. One co-defendant, Andre Thomas Jr., 27, was earlier sentenced to 112 months in prison, and another, Jaron Willis, 21, was sentenced to 42 months in prison and an additional six months of home incarceration. 

            West pleaded guilty in March 2021, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, to charges of robbery and using, carrying, possessing, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. He was sentenced by the Honorable Timothy J. Kelly. Following his prison term, he will be placed on five years of supervised release.

            According to the government’s evidence, on Nov. 5, 2019, at about 11:37 p.m., West and Thomas entered a 7-Eleven in the 4400 block of Benning Road NE, unmasked and scoping out the store. Then, roughly 90 minutes later, at 1:16 a.m. on Nov. 6, 2019, West, Thomas and Willis entered the store, all wearing masks. Once the lone store patron completed her transaction, West retrieved a pistol from his coat pocket and brandished it in the face of a 7-Eleven employee, demanding that the cash register be opened. Willis then hopped over the cashier-counter and began to steal cartons of cigarettes. At that point, a second store employee, who had been stocking shelves, realized what was happening and started to move swiftly toward the exit. Thomas grabbed the employee by the neck and squeezed until the victim lost consciousness. The defendants fled after collectively stealing cash and multiple cartons of cigarettes.

            The second robbery took place at approximately 2:50 a.m. All three defendants, again wearing masks, entered a Subway sandwich shop in the 4500 block of Benning Road SE. At the time of this robbery, the door to the left of the register was propped open as the store was actively receiving a delivery. Once again, West pulled out a firearm, pointing it at a store employee before heading to the back of the establishment. When West reached the back of the store, he encountered another employee, who was stocking the freezer with the new deliveries. West forced this victim at gunpoint to lie down on the floor on his stomach, in the entryway to the freezer. Meanwhile, Willis physically pulled and pushed the other employee to the register. Once that employee opened the register, Willis and Thomas told him to hide in the bathroom. The three men took cash, including the entire cash till, and beverages and fled.

            The three defendants were arrested soon after the robberies by the Metropolitan Police Department and have been in custody ever since.

            This investigation was conducted by Metropolitan Police Department and the FBI Washington Field Office’s Violent Crime Task Force, which is composed of FBI Agents, working in partnership with MPD Detectives, and task force officers from other federal agencies to include the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Federal Protective Service, U.S. Marshals Service, U.S. Capitol Police, U.S. Department of Energy, and other partners. The task force investigates violent offenders within the D.C. metropolitan area. 

            In announcing the sentence, Acting U.S. Attorney Phillips, Special Agent in Charge Jacobs, and Chief Contee commended the work of those who investigated the case. They also expressed appreciation for the efforts of those who handled the case for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, including Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Poulin and Paralegal Specialist Tasha Tobias, as well as Assistant U.S. Attorney Kaitlin A. Vaillancourt, who prosecuted the matter.

 

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