North Carolina man sentenced to nearly 30 years in prison for armed robberies

Published 2:09 pm Wednesday, May 24, 2023

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A Wendell man was sentenced to 356 months in prison for a string of armed robberies targeting Aldi stores across eastern North Carolina between January and March of 2019, according to a May 19, 2023 press release from the U.S. Department of Justice, Eastern District of North Carolina. In October of 2022, a jury convicted Lionel Robinson, 43, for two counts of Hobbs Act robbery, two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

“This defendant engaged in violent behavior in a grocery store where families do their shopping,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina Michael Easley. “Through a collaborative investigation between state, local and federal partners, we took a dangerous criminal off the street, and placed him behind bars for nearly 30 years. This sentence should serve as a deterrent to those that are engaged in violence in our communities.”

From January 2019 until March 2019, Robinson, sometimes with an accomplice, targeted Aldi stores in Lexington, Rocky Mount, Fayetteville, Winterville, Indian Trail and Kernersville.

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“Robinson would ring the back doorbell to the Aldi pretending to be a delivery driver. When an employee would answer the door, he would force his way inside, holding the employee at gunpoint and make them take him to the manager’s office where the store’s safe was located,” stated the release. “He would keep the gun pointed at the employee while giving directions to open the safe. Robinson wore disguises, including masks, gloves, and reflective vests.

“When law enforcement identified Lionel Robinson as a suspect, they executed a search warrant at his residence and recovered evidence relevant to the robberies, including gloves and clothing consistent with what was used in the robbery, rolled coins similar to what Aldi stores would have, and the suspect vehicle that was observed on camera. They also recovered a large quantity of ammunition,” the release continued.

Easley made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle The Rocky Mount Police Department, Fayetteville Police Department, Greenville Police Department, Lexington Police Department, Kernersville Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Rhoades and Yasir Sadat prosecuted and tried the case.