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North Carolina man sentenced to over seven years in prison for role in armed robbery of convenience store

Eric Laneil Beale, of Murfreesboro, was sentenced Tuesday, August 17, 2021 to 92 months in prison for interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm in connection with that crime, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina. Beale pleaded guilty to the charges on March 9, 2021.

According to court documents and statements made during hearings, on January 10, 2019, at around 6:30 p.m., two men holding guns ran into the Park N Shop convenience store in Conway, North Carolina.  One man – wearing all black with a black hood pulled over his face – went to an employee who was working behind a deli counter, grabbed her by her shirt and pushed her to the front counter with the gun against her head, stated the release. The other man – wearing bright blue pants and a burgundy hooded sweater with the hood down – went behind the front counter and grabbed the money from the cash register; both men then fled on foot, according to the release.

“Law enforcement began searching the area, and one officer noticed a man, later identified as Beale, crouching behind a parked car,” stated the release. “Beale, still crouching as if trying to not be seen, then walked over and got into the driver’s seat of another car that someone had just parked and stepped away from. The officer ordered Beale out of the car and detained him.”

A pat down uncovered twenty stacked $5 bills in Beale’s front pants pocket and Beale admitted that he was involved in the robbery, according to the release.

“At the police station, Beale confessed to going into the store and committing the robbery, identifying himself as the man who had collected the money,” stated the release. “He directed officers to an abandoned building near a cemetery, where officers recovered a .380 caliber Hi-Point handgun, a plastic bag containing the rest of the stolen money, and the blue pants and burgundy sweater that he had worn during the robbery.”

Law enforcement later identified Beale’s accomplice as co-defendant Isaiah Vaughan based on a distinctive tattoo visible on the surveillance video, according to the release. Vaughan pleaded guilty to the same charges on June 8, 2021 and is scheduled to be sentenced during the court’s October 2021 term.

G. Norman Acker III, acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Louise W. Flanagan. The Conway Police Department and Northampton County Sheriff’s Office conducted the investigation and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jake D. Pugh prosecuted the case.

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