As part of a federal initiative to combat gun crime, a North Carolina man will spend 32 years in prison for his role in a dollar store robbery spree across three counties near the state’s eastern border in early 2015.
Thomas Wayne Godard, 25, will serve five years of supervised release upon completing his prison term after pleading guilty in August to two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and aiding and abetting.
U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon, Jr. said criminals like Godard and his accomplices, Keenan Dequez Bond and Tremaine Anderson, exemplify why the agency remains so focused on prosecuting violent crime.
“Godard robbed businesses and endangered employees and customers in a way that puts fear in all our hearts. It could have been anyone … working or shopping in these businesses and facing those violent criminal acts and the firearms being brandished,” he said in a Department of Justice news release Wednesday. “This is why we will continue to pursue violent criminals and those who illegally possess and use firearms in our effort to reduce and eliminate violent crime.”
According to an 11-page indictment filed in the Eastern District of North Carolina, Godard and his accomplices executed four armed robberies between Jan. 13, 2015 and April 9, 2015 — including at two Dollar General stores, a Family Dollar and the Washington Coin and Pawn shop. The spree stretched across Martin, Edgecomb and Nash counties, according to court documents. The three men were also accused of renting a Chevrolet Suburban for a planned robbery of TD Ameritrade Bank in Wilmington. Police apprehended the men in August 2016, nearly 18 months after the robbery spree ended.
A district court judge sentenced Bond in May to 32 years in prison, five years supervised released and restitution of more than $167,000. Anderson will serve just 6.5 years in prison, according to court documents.
The Department of Justice said the case falls under the purview of Project Safe Neighborhoods, a federal program to reduce gun-related crime across the nation. In March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions touted the program as one of the county’s approaches to reducing violent crime.
Through Project Safe Neighborhoods, DOJ prosecutions for those charged with violating federal firearm laws reached a decade high in 2017, according to Session. Violent crime prosecutions are likewise at the highest rate in more than 25 years.
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