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January 6, 2022Corpus Christi, United StatesFinancial Crimes

Third gang member sentenced to prison for series of truck stop ATM robberies, related assault

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A third Houston-area gang member was ordered to federal prison Wednesday for his role in a string of ATM robberies at truck stops in Texas and Louisiana and for a related assault of a good Samaritan who tried to intervene in one of the robberies.

The investigation was conducted by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Corpus Christi with assistance from sheriff’s offices in Live Oak, Angelina, Brazoria, Wharton, Medina and Cass Counties in Texas; and police departments in Angleton, Cleveland, Seguin and Lufkin, Texas, as well as Vinton, Louisiana.

Christopher Bernard Brown, 39, was sentenced Jan. 5 in the Southern District of Texas on two counts of interference with commerce by threats or violence and ordered to serve 90 months in federal prison to be immediately followed by three years of supervised release. He must also pay restitution. Brown pleaded guilty to the charges Sept. 30, 2021.

Previously sentenced for their roles in the robberies and related assault were Wesley Jerome Davis, 28, and Kevin Wilson, 33, who both pleaded guilty July 29, 2021. Wilson was sentenced to 90 months in prison, while Davis was ordered to serve 60 months in prison. Thomas Alec Buckley, 26, has also been convicted for his role in the robberies and assault, but has yet to be sentenced.

At the sentencing hearing, the court heard of approximately 33 related truck stop robberies that occurred between May 29-Sept. 2019 that were part of the multi-district and interstate Hobbs Act conspiracy. The court also heard of the numerous employees and customers who were traumatized as a result of Brown’s and the others’ actions. During the robberies, they threatened or used physical force towards customers or employees to steal or attempt to steal ATMs and the currency inside the ATM from at least nine Love’s Travel Stops throughout Texas and Louisiana. Brown typically served as a scout or lookout while Davis, Wilson, Buckley or others wore masks and gloves and placed straps or chains around the ATMs. Then, a vehicle connected to the chains would accelerate to dislodge the bolted-down machines. Co-conspirators would lift the dislodged ATMs into the waiting vehicle and quickly drive away.

The attempts failed in Angleton, Natalia and Domino. However, the robbery crew was able to obtain monies from the stolen ATMs in Hungerford, Seguin, Lufkin, Cleveland, and Three Rivers as well as Vinton, Louisiana.

In the Three Rivers robbery, co-conspirators came into contact with Love’s employees or customers, at which time Brown stated, “What are you gonna do?!! What are you gonna do?!!” The masked or hooded suspects also made menacing gestures towards the employees. Love’s Travel Stop employees did not intervene with the men for fear of sustaining serious bodily injury.

In Seguin, a good Samaritan attempted to stop the ATM robbery, but Davis struck him twice, at which time he fell to the floor and suffered bodily injury from a head wound.

Brown will remain in custody pending transfer to a U.S. Bureau of Prisons facility to be determined in the near future. Buckley remains on bond pending sentencing.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reid Manning is prosecuting the case.

HSI is a directorate of ICE and the principal investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), responsible for investigating transnational crime and threats, specifically criminal organizations that exploit the global infrastructure through which international trade, travel, and finance move. HSI agents investigate a wide array of transnational crime, including terrorism; narcotics smuggling; child exploitation; human smuggling and trafficking; illegal exports of controlled technology and weapons; money laundering; financial fraud and scams; labor exploitation; cybercrime; intellectual property theft and trade fraud; identity and benefit fraud; and human rights violations and war crimes.

Updated: 01/07/2022