RICHMOND, Va. - Two Richmond men could spend the rest of their lives in prison for an unsuccessful plot to steal money and marijuana from people who live nearly 3,000 miles away.
Siddiq Abdullah and Nakia Jones went before a federal judge in San Francisco Tuesday, and 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.
Abdullah and Jones were part of an eight-person crew that traveled from Virginia and North Carolina to northern California last year, obtained guns and hatched a scheme to break into homes “they believed contained bulk quantities of marijuana and the cash proceeds of marijuana sales,” according to the Department of Justice. Prosecutors said the defendants planned to then transport the drugs back to the East Coast, where they would be sold on the street.
That never happened.
On March 12, 2018, the eight defendants traveled to the town of Petaluma, located about an hour north of San Francisco.
Once they arrived, prosecutors say they broke into a home, forced a man and a woman into a bathroom, and bound them with duct tape.
Both victims were threatened, and the male victim was struck, as the defendants demanded to know the location of the marijuana, according to prosecutors.
But the victims informed the defendants they were in the wrong house.
Prosecutors said the group then forced their way into a nearby home, where they took a phone from a woman, dragged her by her hair, and locked her in a closet.
Again, they were told there were no drugs.
Another neighbor who happened upon on the scene was forced inside the second residence, where he was tied up with an electrical cord and repeatedly struck, while having a gun pointed at him, according to prosecutors.
He too told the attackers they had come to the wrong house.
Police arrived a short time later, and the suspects fled the scene in two cars. All but one of the defendants were captured within a matter of hours, including some who were arrested at San Francisco International Airport.
Jones is scheduled to be sentenced in July, while a sentencing hearing for Abdullah has been set for August.
The gun conviction alone could result in a life sentence and a $250,000 fine.