The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday that 12 people have been charged with operating a highly organized crime enterprise that ran a cell phone theft ring in downtown Minneapolis for more than a year and killed more than 40 people victimized.
The charges have been classified as racketeering (RICO) offences, which occur when a person is associated with a business and engages in some kind of criminal activity. The accused individuals include:
- Aaron Johnson, 25, from Sao Paulo
- Charlotte Green, 21, from Sao Paulo
- Charlie Pryor Jr., 18, St. Paul
- Charlie Pryor Sr., 41, Sao Paulo
- Lawrence Miles, 22, Bloomington
- Heiron Birts, 26, Minneapolis
- Alfonze Stuckey, 23, from São Paulo
- Sherrod Lamar, 23, from Sao Paulo
- Emarion White, 18, from São Paulo
- Antonio Green, 19, from Sao Paulo
- David Mullins, 26, Minneapolis
- Su Zhongshuang of Minneapolis, aka “Brandon Su”
The complaint alleges that from June 2021 to May 2022, the 12 individuals systematically stole cellphones as a business, fraudulently transferred funds from victims’ cellphones to individuals associated with the theft ring, and then locally Sell stolen mobile phones, internationally.
Defendants routinely target drunks in downtown Minneapolis near bars. In some cases, the accused will take the victim’s phone by force or intimidation. At other times, the accused would approach the victim in a friendly manner and ask for their phone number so the accused could add himself to the social media platform. The defendants will ensure that the victim unlocks the phone and then hand it over to another defendant in the illicit operation, who will use mobile payment services such as Venmo, Zelle and Coinbase to transfer funds from the victim’s account to the defendant’s.
After months of dedicated work by law enforcement, it was finally determined that the defendant handed over the mobile phone to Mr. Chen. Su, nicknamed “iPhone Man,” would sell phones stolen through the scheme to local and Chinese individuals or institutions. Nearly 50 phones were sent to Hong Kong, and another 30 were sent to a hot pot restaurant in Minneapolis whose address was Mr. Zhang. sun.
As part of their coordinated plan, damages from theft and robbery are estimated to be in excess of $300,000:
- Actual Cash: $159,797.33
- Cryptocurrency: $85,283.34
- Value of stolen phone (estimated): $25,267.00
- Try Cash: $32,086.07
The complaint outlines 33 different incidents organized by the business. The defendants are interconnected in many ways:
- Multiple pairs of defendants share an address.
- Two of the defendants were in a relationship.
- Multiple pairs of defendants are related, two of which are cousins and two are father and son.
If convicted, the defendant faces a number of possible penalties: up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of three times the total value obtained during the action; court costs and investigation and prosecution costs.
The charges follow a groundbreaking and extensive joint investigation by the Minneapolis Police Department and the Minnesota Criminal Arrest Service. The sophisticated prosecution unit of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, which will handle the case, has worked closely with law enforcement to bring racketeering charges.