Racketeering charges were filed Tuesday against a group of Twin Cities residents accused of running a “highly organized” crime ring that involved stealing cellphones from people in downtown Minneapolis.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office alleges 12 suspects worked together for nearly a year to systematically steal cell phones, fraudulently transfer funds from the victims' phones and, finally, sell the stolen phone.
Those charged in the investigation are:
- Aaron Johnson, age 25, of St. Paul.
- Sharlotte Green, age 21, of St. Paul.
- Charlie Pryor Jr., age 18, of St. Paul.
- Charlie Pryor Sr., age 41, of St. Paul.
- Lawrence Miles, age 22, of Bloomington.
- Heiron Birts, age 26, of Minneapolis.
- Alfonze Stuckey, age 23, of St. Paul.
- Sherrod Lamar, age 23, of St. Paul.
- Emarion White, age 18, of St. Paul.
- Antonio Green, age 19, of St. Paul.
- David Mullins, age 26, of Minneapolis.
- Zhongshuang Su, a/k/a "Brandon Su," of Minneapolis.
The allegations span from June 2021 until May 2022.
According to the criminal complaint, the suspects allegedly targeted intoxicated bar-goers in downtown Minneapolis. The group often struck at bar closing times, prosecutors allege, and sometimes used force or intimidation to steal the phone.
At other times, the suspects would allegedly approach victims in a friendly manner and ask to handle the phone in order to connect on social media.
After gaining access to the phone, the suspects would transfer money using mobile payment services such as Venmo, Zelle or Coinbase.
"Through months of dedicated work by law enforcement, it was determined that the defendants would funnel phones to Mr. Su, nicknamed 'the iPhone Man,' who would sell the phones stolen through this scheme to people or institutions locally and in China," a news release from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman stated.
Prosecutors allege nearly 50 shipments of phones were sent to Hong Kong, while another 30 shipments were sent to a Minneapolis restaurant were Su works.
The thefts and robberies have resulted in losses estimated to be over $300,000, according to court documents. That includes nearly $160,000 in cash, 85,000 in cryptocurrency and $25,000 in the value of the stolen phones. Another $32,000 was attempted to be stolen.
If convicted, each suspect could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine that is three times greater than the value gained during the operation.