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Man convicted of robbing Aldi stores in Fayetteville, other N.C. cities


A Wendell man was convicted Thursday on charges of robbing Aldi grocery stores in Fayetteville and other North Carolina cities in 2019, according to a news release from the Fayetteville Police Department.

Lionel Vernard Robinson, 43, was convicted by a federal jury on two counts of Hobbs Act robbery; two counts of using a firearm during a crime of violence; and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon, the release said.

The Hobbs Act prohibits attempted robbery or extortion affecting interstate commerce, according to the U.S. Department of Justice website. 

Robinson will be sentenced in January and faces life in prison, the news release said. 

Between January and March 2019, Robinson targeted Aldi stores in Lexington, Rocky Mount, Fayetteville, Winterville, Indian Trail, and Kernersville, the release said. He sometimes had an accomplice.

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Investigators say Robinson would ring the back doorbell of the store and pretend to be a delivery driver. When an employee answered the door, Robinson would force his way into the business, holding the employee at gunpoint and demanding money, the release said.

Robinson disguised himself with masks, gloves and reflective vests, the release said.  

Investigators identified Robinson as a suspect and used a warrant to search his home on May 7, 2019. They recovered evidence relevant to the robbery investigations, the release said. They also recovered a large quantity of ammunition.

Robinson is a convicted felon and is prohibited from possessing ammunition or firearms, police say. 

The Fayetteville robbery was reported on March 7, 2019, at the Aldi store at 5201 Ramsey St. Employees told investigators that the robber rang the doorbell on the back door and an employee was confronted by a masked intruder armed with a handgun, the news release said.

The man chased the employee through the store and encountered another employee. He demanded that both employees drop their phones and show him where the money was kept, the release said. He then fled with the money. 

U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle presided at the trial.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chad Rhoades and Yasir Sadat of the Eastern District of North Carolina prosecuted the case.

In addition to the Fayetteville Police Department, law enforcement agencies from Rocky Mount, Greenville, Lexington, Kernersville and Union County and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case.

Fayetteville, Aldi, robbery, crime