They were out-of-towners, and that was one key to their undoing.
Three men from Florida – Clorenzo Griffin, then a deputy U.S. marshal, Andre Jamison and Rodney Rackley – robbed 24 pounds of marijuana from three drug dealers at gunpoint in a Yuba City motel parking lot Oct. 11, 2014.
Following the brazen daylight stickup, and with Griffin at the wheel, the three blew through a red light at a high rate of speed just around the corner from the California Highway Patrol’s Yuba City office. With a CHP officer in pursuit, the robbers abandoned their rented Jeep Patriot, and Griffin unwittingly ran straight to a building housing the Sutter County Sheriff’s Office.
A sheriff’s deputy fired a warning shot at Griffin, who dropped his gun and was taken into custody by the CHP officer. The other two were quickly cornered behind a dumpster and arrested.
On Wednesday in Sacramento federal court, Griffin, who pleaded guilty in December to plotting an interstate robbery, was the last of the three to be sentenced to prison by U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller.
She handed out a 10-year term behind bars for Griffin, who was off duty at the time of the robbery and has been in jail since his arrest. He was fired by the U.S. Marshals Service after he was arrested. He primarily worked escorting prisoners to and from court in Miami and Fort Lauderdale and guarding them in the courtroom.
Griffin, 38, who grew up in Broward County and lived in Fort Lauderdale, was a standout defensive back for the University of Minnesota football team.
His fellow thieves, both of Miami, pleaded guilty to their respective parts in the heist and were sentenced in December. Jamison, 40, got seven years and three months in prison, and Rackley, 24, got six years.
An intermediary, who splits his time between Florida and Sacramento and who is acquainted with Jamison, set up the meeting, telling the drug dealers the contingent from Florida were buyers.
Once they had been relieved of their marijuana, the drug dealers drove around for about 10 minutes looking for the culprits but were pulled over by police, who were treated to the story of the robbery.
The drug dealers recounted that the robbers approached the Honda Accord they were sitting in with guns drawn and wearing gear with “POLICE” displayed on it. One of the robbers asked if anyone in the car was on probation, then the robbers pulled one of the drug dealers out of the car and asked for his identification. The robbers grabbed three bags containing the marijuana out of the car, put them in the Jeep and took off.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jason Hitt argued that Griffin was the moving force behind the daring caper and sought a 12-year sentence for him.
“As a member of law enforcement, he abused the public trust placed in sworn peace officers,” Hitt wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed last week. He wrote that Griffin “planned, financed, and participated” in the robbery.
“Indeed, without Mr. Griffin, the crime would never have occurred,” Hitt said in the memorandum. “Neither of his co-defendants had the resources or vision to plan the conspiracy in this case.” The scheme “required a cross-county flight, obtaining hotel rooms, procuring firearms, ballistic vests, and a rental car, as well as the moxie to set up and rob marijuana traffickers.”
Denny Walsh: 916-321-1189