DETROIT, MI – A Philadelphia man was sentenced to 33 years in prison Tuesday, May 3rd, 2016, for his involvement in the violent armed robbery of Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in West Bloomfield and an attempted armed robbery of Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids in April 2014, United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade announced.
McQuade was jointed in the announcement by Special Agent in Charge David P. Gelios, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chief Michael Patton, West Bloomfield Police Department and Sheriff Lawrence A. Stelma, Kent County Sheriff’s Department.
Nathaniel Pembrook, 43-years-old, was sentenced before United States District Judge Laurie J. Michelson in Detroit, Michigan.
Pembrook, along with his co-conspirators David Briley, Shaheed Calhoun, and Orlando Johnson, were convicted of a variety of charges, including conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by force, interference with interstate commerce by force, use and carry of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and being felons in possession of firearms after a four week-long trial in November – December 2015. The evidence produced at trial showed that all four men lived in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and traveled to Michigan on April 21-22, 2014 to commit armed robberies of jewelry stores, particularly targeting the Rolex distributors, as part of a six-person robbery crew.
This armed robbery crew initially attempted to steal Rolex watches and other valuables from Medawar Jewelers, located at 4518 Plainfield Avenue in Grand Rapids, at approximately 12:28 pm on April 22, 2014. During the course of that attempted robbery, one robber used a hammer to smash the Rolex watch display while three other robbers, one armed with a gun, rushed the back area of the store looking for other valuables. The store owners, who are registered concealed pistol owners, shot the armed robber and all the robbers fled without any valuables. About five hours later, three men, dressed in identical clothes as the robbers in Grand Rapids earlier that day, entered Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry, located at 6337 Orchard Lake Road in West Bloomfield, and held employees and customers at gunpoint as they stole approximately $1.3 million worth of Rolex watches. The men then fled the store without being apprehended.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, Kent County Sheriff Department, and West Bloomfield Police Department coordinated their investigative efforts and began to piece together various pieces of evidence to identify the armed robbers. Nathaniel Pembrook’s blood, and thus, DNA were found at the Medawar Jewelers location. Investigators discovered that Pembrook checked himself into Pennsylvania Prysberatian Hospital in the early morning hours of April 23, 2014 complaining of a gunshot wound. The hospital removed the bullet from Pembrook’s arm and Michigan State Police laboratory personnel were able to match the fired bullet to the Medawars owner’s firearm. Additionally, investigators tracked down video and cell phone information that helped to place all of these men from Philadelphia in Michigan and more specifically the robbery locations during the times of the robbery.
Law enforcement is still attempting to identify the final two persons associated with this robbery crew. If anyone has any information about those person’s identities, they are asked to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Briley, Calhoun, and Johnson are all scheduled to be sentenced next Friday, May 13, 2016 in the federal courthouse in Detroit.
“Armed robberies create a level of fear and risk to life that are unacceptable,” McQuade said. “We are grateful for the collaboration of law enforcement agencies across state lines to build this investigation and bring these offenders to justice.”
“The lengthy sentence imposed today, and previous convictions, are the result of hundreds of hours of work and dedication of our team of investigators and prosecutors.” said, David P. Gelios, Special Agent in Charge, FBI Detroit Division. “The convictions and lengthy sentence should serve as a reminder to anyone who would travel to Michigan with the intent to commit a crime, particularly violent crimes, that the FBI, along with its federal, state and local partners, will locate them and bring them to justice.”
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Daniel Lemisch and Christopher Graveline.