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Two sentenced for jewelry store heists

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BY LINDELL JOHN KAY
Staff Writer

Saturday, March 16, 2019

A Rocky Mount couple who used zip ties to restrain employees during a pair of local jewelry heists has been sentenced to federal prison.

Jaquin Jamal Pratt, 20, and Nikita Shontel Taylor, 26, were sentenced to 10 years and 7 years imprisonment respectfully. Both will have to serve three years supervised probation upon release, according to a ruling by Chief U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle.

The duo were charged with interference of commerce by robbery, according to a superseding indictment filed in September. Pratt and Tayor pleaded guilty to the count late last year.

On Nov. 27, 2017, the two defendents robbed Saslow’s Jewelry in Wilson. They zip-tied employees, then stole jewelry items valued at more than $25,000. On Dec. 8, 2017, they robbed Swift’s Fine Jewelry in Knightdale. Once again, they zip-tied employees and stole jewelry valued above $30,000.

U.S. Attorney Robert J. Higdon Jr. said he was pleased with the sentences imposed by the court.

"While we cannot fully restore the victims in this case because they will always have to live with the fear and memory of being tied up and robbed, we hope the court’s sentence will bring some measure of comfort and will deter others from committing similar crimes," Higdon said. "And of course, for the next seven-plus years, these defendants won’t be in a position to threaten or harm anyone else.”

This case was initiated through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative, which emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with state and local law enforcement and prosecutors on a sustained basis in communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking and crimes against law enforcement, Higdon said.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Knightdale Police Department, Wilson Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms Explosives. Assistant U.S. Attorney Erin Blondel handled the case on behalf of the government, said Don Connelly, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina.

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