Four Philly men convicted in Tapper’s armed robbery

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

Four Philadelphia men were convicted by a federal court jury Friday in the armed robbery of Tapper’s Diamonds and Fine Jewelry in West Bloomfield and an attempted armed robbery of Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids.

Nathaniel Pembrook, David Briley, Shaheed Calhoun and Orlando Johnson were convicted on multiple charges after a four-week trial.

The four traveled to Michigan on April 21 and 22, 2014, to commit armed robberies of jewelry stores, targeting Rolex distributors, as part of a six-person robbery crew, U. S. Attorney Barbara L. McQuade said in a statement.

The crew initially attempted to steal Rolex watches and other valuables from Medawar Jewelers in Grand Rapids on the afternoon of April 22, 2014.

During the attempted robbery, one robber used a hammer to smash the Rolex watch display case while three others, one armed with a gun, rushed the back area of the store looking for other valuables, prosecutors said.

The store owners, who are registered concealed pistol owners, shot the armed robber and all of them fled without any valuables, McQuade said.

About five hours later, three men, dressed in identical clothes as the robbers in Grand Rapids earlier that day, entered Tapper’s and held employees and customers at gunpoint as they stole about $1.3 million worth of Rolex watches. The men then fled the store.

The FBI, Kent County Sheriff Office and West Bloomfield Police Department coordinated their investigation and began to piece together evidence to identify the armed robbers.

All four men were found guilty of conspiracy to interfere with interstate commerce by robbery, interference with interstate commerce by robbery, two counts of using a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence and felon in possession of a firearm.

Law enforcement is still attempting to identify the final two suspects associated with the robbery crew. If anyone has any information, they are asked to contact the FBI at (313) 965-2323.