PHILADELPHIA, PA — Acting United States Attorney Jennifer Arbittier Williams announced that Lawrence Laws, 28, of Philadelphia, PA, was convicted Friday at trial of Hobbs Act robbery (robbery which interferes with interstate commerce) and using, carrying and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence arising from his participation in a robbery of a business in the Mount Airy section of Philadelphia.
In February 2017 at approximately 1:00 a.m., the defendant and two co-defendants laid in wait for the owner of the Mermaid Bar, located on Germantown Avenue, as he was closing the bar for the night along with his bartender. The owner of the bar approached his vehicle and, after realizing that one of the defendants was inside waiting for him, both he and the bartender took off running. The defendants caught up to the owner and bartender and ordered them onto the ground and then back to the bar at gunpoint, where they stole a firearm, cash from the register and from a safe in the basement, cartons of cigarettes and a cell phone. The defendants also took the owner’s debit card and PIN number, which they used to make multiple cash withdrawals from the bank ATM across the street before fleeing the scene together. Laws co-defendants both previously pleaded guilty to charges related to this incident.
“Lawrence Laws and his co-defendants committed a brazen armed robbery that endangered innocent lives and left a long-time business owner and one of his employees traumatized,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Williams. “These three defendants should serve as an example to others — if you rob any kind of business in Philadelphia with a firearm, you are going to face serious federal charges. Our Office is committed to being ‘All Hands On Deck’ working with our law enforcement partners to bring violent criminals to justice.”
“The FBI’s Violent Crime Task Force works closely with our local law enforcement partners to combine our resources as an effective strategy in reducing violent crime in Philadelphia,” said Michael J. Driscoll, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “[This] guilty verdict is a direct result of this unique collaboration and is another step towards making our communities safer.”
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. The Department of Justice reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Alison Kehner and Anthony Wzorek.
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