A federal jury recently convicted a 23-year-old Salt Lake City man in connection with the robbery of a Riverton Walmart store. Authorities say that the man worked with members of the Tongan Crip Gang who were previously convicted of this offense and other violent crimes.
Two members of the Tongan Crip Gang allegedly tried to rob Walmart employees who were completing a nightly accounting procedure. The robbers were reportedly thwarted by the fact that the store’s inner cash office was locked. The only employee in that office refused to open the door because he could see the robbers on surveillance cameras.
Authorities say that the 23-year-old Salt Lake City man assisted the robbers by providing the firearm used in the crime, driving the getaway car, and disposing of the firearm after the robbery.
Prosecutors convicted the man of robbery and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence under an accomplice liability theory. Individuals who assist in the commission of a crime can be held liable for the actions of those they are accused of helping. It is often unclear who is in fact an accomplice, and threats of accomplice liability charges are often made by authorities to intimidate individuals into testifying against others.
The getaway driver’s friends were convicted under federal RICO conspiracy laws for their roles in the robbery. Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) charges are frequently brought against gang members and greatly increases their potential prison sentences and other penalties.
Source: Utah DOJ, “JURY FINDS TOLUTAU GUILTY OF WALMART ROBBERY; BRANDISHING FIREARM DURING A VIOLENT CRIME,” Melodie Rydalch, Mar.8, 2013