Prosecutors say the group has run the “highly organized criminal enterprise” for over a year, and has targeted intoxicated people in downtown Minneapolis.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office says 12 people have been charged for running a highly organized cell phone robbery ring that targeted intoxicated people in downtown Minneapolis.
The thieves often approach the victim in a very friendly way, striking up a conversation and sometimes claiming to be part of a rap group, according to the county attorney.
They ask to add their Instagram to the victim’s account, and once they have the unlocked phone, they take off with full access to the financial apps.
This past summer, retired Maplewood Police Chief Scott Nadeau posted on Facebook a video showing his son getting knocked unconscious after his phone was stolen outside a downtown Minneapolis bar.
On Tuesday, prosecutors say racketeering charges have been brought up against the following people:
- Aaron Johnson, age 25, of Saint Paul.
- Charlotte Green, age 21, of Saint Paul.
- Charlie Pryor Jr., age 18, of Saint Paul.
- Charlie Pryor Sr., age 41, of Saint Paul.
- Lawrence Miles, age 22, of Bloomington.
- Heiron Burts, age 26, of Minneapolis.
- Alfonze Stuckey, age 23, of Saint Paul.
- Sherrod Lamar, age 23, of Saint Paul.
- Emarion White, age 18, of Saint Paul.
- Antonio Green, age 19, of Saint Paul.
- David Mullins, age 26, of Minneapolis.
- Zhongshuang Su, aka “Brandon Su,” of Minneapolis.
Prosecutors say these individuals violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), which is a federal law designed to combat organized crime in the US
For over a year, the group was running a criminal enterprise and ripped off over 40 people.
Officials say this group of people would “systematically” steal the phones, “fraudulently transfer funds from the victims’ phones to individuals associated with the theft ring, and then sell the stolen cell phones locally and internationally.”
The robbery ring would give the stolen phones to Zhongshuang Su, nicknamed “the iPhone Man.”
Prosecutors say he would sell the phones locally and overseas.
“Nearly 50 shipments of phones were sent to Hong Kong, while another 30 shipments were sent to the address of a Minneapolis hotpot restaurant that employs Mr. Su,” according to a news release.
Officials estimated thefts and robberies from the 12 people resulted in losses of over $300,000.
The robbery ring stole over $25,000 worth of cell phones. They transferred cash and cryptocurrency from the unlocked phones.
Venmo, Zelle and Coinbase are all apps mentioned in the news release as being abused by the thieves.
Prosecutors say the group pulled off more than 30 heists.
According to the new release, the defendants are linked to each other in many ways:
• Multiple pairs of defendants share an address.
• Two of the defendants are in a romantic relationship.
• Multiple pairs of defendants are related to one another, including two that are cousins and two that are a father and son.
Prosecutors say each member of the organization faces up to 20 years in prison and multiple fines.