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Rockford Man Pleads Guilty to Attempted Robbery, Firearm Charges

statue of justice, justice, The Old Bailey, Ronnie McDonald, firearm
“Statue of Justice – The Old Bailey” by Ronnie Macdonald is licensed under CC BY 2.0 CC BY 2.0

Rockford, IL-(ENEWSPF)- A Rockford man pleaded guilty on February 22, 2019, in federal court before U.S. District Judge Frederick J. Kapala to one count of attempted robbery and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

DARNELL LEAVY, 28, admitted in a written plea agreement that at approximately 7:00 p.m. on Nov. 5, 2015, he and others attempted to rob the Zake Convenience store, 824 Seventh St. in Rockford.  As stated in Leavy’s plea agreement, co-defendant RICKEY CLAYBRON, 33, of Rockford, entered the store first with his gun pointed at two clerks who were behind a glass enclosure.  Leavy entered second and also began pointing his gun at the clerks, according to Leavy’s plea agreement.  A third individual then entered the store carrying a bag meant for the proceeds of the robbery, Leavy’s plea agreement states.  The employees of the store barricaded themselves in the glassed-in area where the registers were located.  Leavy’s plea agreement further states that Leavy tried to kick the door open, but was unsuccessful.  In the meantime, according to Leavy’s plea agreement, Claybron came around the front of the glass enclosure and pointed his gun through the small hole in the front that is used to conduct business with customers.  Eventually, Leavy and the other robbers gave up on the robbery and walked out of the store, Leavy’s plea agreement states.

Leavy’s guilty plea was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Jeffrey S. Sallet, Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  The federal investigation was conducted by the FBI-led Rockford Area Violent Gang Task Force, which includes law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, Rockford Police Department, Loves Park Police Department and Freeport Police Department. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Margaret J. Schneider.

For the attempted robbery, Leavy faces a maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by a term of supervised release of up to three years following imprisonment.  For the firearm charge, Leavy faces a statutory mandatory minimum sentence of seven years and a maximum sentence of life, to be consecutive to any other sentence imposed, as well as a  term of supervised release of up to five years following imprisonment.  Both charges also carry a fine of up to $250,000 apiece.  The sentence will be determined by the United States District Court, guided by the Sentencing Guidelines.  Sentencing for Leavy is set for June 4, 2019, at 11:00 a.m.

Claybron is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, and four counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.  Claybron has pleaded not guilty and is in custody while awaiting trial.

Also charged in the case is DEANDRE R. HAYWOOD, also known as “Duke,” 28, of Rockford. Haywood is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, and three counts of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Haywood has pleaded not guilty and is in custody while awaiting trial. 

The public is reminded that an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

This is a release from the United States Department of Justice.

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