SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — Three men from Virginia and North Carolina, arrested in connection with violent home invasion robberies in Petaluma last year, have pleaded guilty to federal charges connected to a scheme to obtain marijuana for resale on the East Coast.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said the defendants kicked down doors of three different homes in the 100 and 200 blocks of Eugenia Drive around 3 a.m. March 12, 2018, searching for marijuana. At least one homeowners was tied up and reportedly pistol-whipped.

U.S. Attorney David Anderson and FBI Special Agent in Charge John Bennett said Jaray Simmons, Nakia Jones, and Siddiq Abdullah all pleaded guilty Tuesday to their respective roles in the home invasion robberies.

According to the guilty pleas, Simmons, 29, of Winston-Salem, N.C., Jones, 23, of Richmond, Va., and Abdullah, 22 , of Richmond, Va., were three of eight codefendants who agreed to target houses in the Bay Area they believed contained bulk quantities of marijuana and the cash proceeds of marijuana sales.

The eight codefendants agreed to conduct armed home invasion robberies of the targeted homes and to distribute for a profit on the East Coast the marijuana they were able to steal.

In March of 2018, Simmons traveled by car with three codefendants from Winston-Salem to California to carry out the plan. When the four codefendants reached Sacramento, they obtained multiple weapons and one of the codefendants purchased supplies including jackets, duffel bags, scissors, a vacuum sealer, and vacuum bags.

The codefendants purchased these items to package for shipment the marijuana stolen during the home invasion robberies.

Meanwhile, Jones, Abdullah, and an additional two co-defendants traveled from Richmond to Washington, D.C., and then from Washington by plane to San Francisco. After arriving in Northern California, the codefendants obtained a supply of firearms and ammunition.

All eight defendants met in Novato on March 12, and traveled in two cars from Novato to a residential street in Petaluma. The plea agreements provide the following facts regarding the events of the evening:

A codefendant kicked open the front door of the residence and six of the coconspirators entered. The residence was occupied by a man and a woman who were forced inside the bathroom and bound with duct tape.

At least one codefendant threatened to kill the victims if they did not cooperate, at least one codefendant pointed a firearm at the victims to threaten them into providing the location of marijuana and money, and at least one codefendant struck the male victim inside the bathroom in an effort to get him to disclose the location of marijuana and money.

The victims explained they did not have any marijuana and that the defendants were in the wrong house.

Six of the defendants walked to a nearby second house.

The group separated into two smaller groups and broke into the second house through both the front door and a side door. A codefendant grabbed a telephone from a woman occupant and threw it on the floor. At least one codefendant questioned the female victim about the location of marijuana and money. The woman was dragged by the hair and locked inside a closet. The woman said there was no marijuana in the house but that she had money in a drawer.

Investigators then said two codefendants who were outside the second house encountered a neighbor. They brought the neighbor into the second house, pointed a gun at the victim, tied him with an electrical extension cord, and repeatedly struck him while asking where the marijuana and money was located. The male victim repeated that the defendants were in the wrong house.

The defendants heard the police approaching and left the houses.

Investigators said the defendants attempted to escape in the two vehicles in which they arrived, but the police gave chase.

Eventually, all the codefendants were apprehended, some as they abandoned their vehicle, others when they arrived at San Francisco International Airport later in the afternoon of March 12 and one defendant several days later.

On April 26, 2018, a federal grand jury indicted Simmons, Jones, and Abdullah and the other five defendants charging all with conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce; conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana; two counts of attempted robbery affecting interstate commerce and possession or use of a firearm during a crime of violence and a drug trafficking crime.

Simmons, Jones, and Abdullah all pleaded guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute marijuana, and use or possession of a firearm.

Judge Edward M. Chen scheduled Jones’s sentencing hearing for July 31, 2019, Simmons’s sentencing hearing for August 7, 2019, and Abdullah’s sentencing hearing for August 14, 2019.

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