Los Angeles, California - Two South Los Angeles men were each sentenced Monday to 144 months in federal prison for committing an armed robbery last year on the crowded patio of a Beverly Hills restaurant in which one customer had a gun held to his head while the robbers removed his $500,000 wristwatch, and a second restaurant patron was shot and wounded.
Malik Lamont Powell, 21, and Khai McGhee, 18, a.k.a. “Cameron Smith,” were sentenced by United States District Judge John F. Walter, who called the crime “outrageous and unacceptable.”
“These types of robberies, which are becoming more and more prevalent in our community, have to stop,” Judge Walter said.
Each defendant pleaded guilty in September 2021 to three felony counts: conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, and using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence.
A third defendant who participated in the robbery – Marquise Anthony Gardon, 41, also of South Los Angeles – pleaded guilty in September 2021 to two felonies: interference with commerce by robbery, and using and discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Gardon is scheduled to be sentenced on February 28 by Judge Walter.
The three defendants – each of whom is a documented member of the Rollin’ 30s Crips street gang – drove to Beverly Hills on the afternoon of March 4 to commit an armed robbery. After scouting Beverly Hills for potential victims, the defendants decided to target a man wearing a Richard Mille wristwatch who was seated in the outdoor dining section of the Il Pastaio restaurant.
During the robbery, the victim was held at gunpoint. A struggle for the gun ensued, and at least two rounds were discharged from the firearm, one of which struck another restaurant patron in the leg. The gun was left at the scene, but the robbers fled with the watch, which was worth approximately $500,000.
“[Powell] and his co-conspirators’ decision to hold a loaded firearm to [a victim’s] head is especially troubling,” prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. “This type of robbery where firearms are brandished, and discharged, leaves severe, lasting trauma that victims carry with them their entire lives.”
The FBI and the Beverly Hills Police Department investigated this matter.
Assistant United States Attorneys Joseph D. Axelrad and Jeffrey M. Chemerinsky of the Violent and Organized Crime Section prosecuted this case.