Dropped phone during $2.6M jewelry heist leads to three arrests in California, feds say

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A man dropped his phone during a $2.6 million jewelry heist in California, leading to three arrests, federal prosecutors said.

Long Beach residents Jimmy Lee Vernon III, 31, Ladell Tharpe, 37, and Deshon Bell, 20, were indicted on Oct. 5 by a federal grand jury on charges of conspiracy and interference with commerce by robbery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California said in a news release.

An attorney for Vernon told McClatchy News they had no comment. An attorney for Bell did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment. And an attorney was not listed in online court records for Tharpe.

The three men and other suspects drove from Long Beach to Beverly Hills on March 23, the news release states.

Then Vernon and others got out of their cars and smashed the windows of Luxury Jewels of Beverly Hills with a crowbar and other tools, the complaint says.

Bell waited in a car nearby, the release states.

Beverly Hills police responded to a robbery call at 1:45 p.m. and said it went down as employees and customers were in the jewelry store.

They are accused of stealing at least $2,674,000 in jewelry, including 19 bracelets, seven pairs of earrings, four necklaces, a pair of obelisks, eight rings and 20 watches.

Vernon dropped his cellphone during the robbery and police ran a DNA profile on it, which was a match, the complaint says.

Police also got search warrants for the men’s phones and discovered they were all together near the crime scene, the complaint says.

Investigators also found Instagram posts from Tharpe showing photos of large stacks of money and a message saying “robbery gang,” the release says.

Vernon is being held without a bond. His next court hearing is Oct. 13.

Tharpe is in state custody and will be taken to federal custody in a few weeks, the release states.

Bell was released from custody on a bond. His next hearing is Oct. 20.

Each man faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison for each count.

A juvenile was charged in Los Angeles Superior Court with commercial burglary in connection with the robbery, according to the release.

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