Two Floridians plead guilty in 2018 robbery of I-81 Travel Plaza in Wythe County

Two Floridians plead guilty in 2018 robbery of I-81 Travel Plaza in Wythe County

ABINGDON, VIRGINIA – A Florida man and woman, who traveled in a stolen vehicle and committed a robbery at the I-81 Travel Plaza in Wythe County, pleaded guilty last week in U.S. District Court in Abingdon to a series of related federal charges, United States Attorney Thomas T. Cullen announced.

Michael Anthony Wilson, 25 and Perla Isel Pineda-Osorio, 24, both of Sarasota, Fla., pleaded guilty last week, while a third defendant, Christyen Elijah Sumpter, is scheduled to plead guilty on July 25, 2019.

On Thursday, July 11, 2019, in U.S. District Court, both defendants pleaded guilty to one count of robbery by threatening physical violence, one count of transporting a vehicle in interstate commerce knowing the same vehicle to have been stolen, and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, possess a motor vehicle that had crossed a state boundary after being stolen, and transporting in interstate commerce a vehicle that had been stolen.

“We are taking a zero-tolerance approach with individuals who commit acts of violence with firearms,” U.S. Attorney Cullen stated today.  “Robbery can, under many circumstances, result in federal prosecution, and we are committed to working with our federal, state, and local partners to identify violent offenders and send them to federal prison.”

According to court documents, on May 28, 2018, an individual in South Carolina picked up Pineda-Osorio, Sumpter, and Wilson, who posed as hitchhikers.  The three defendants pulled guns on the driver and demanded that he take them to various ATMs to withdraw money from his account.  After taking the driver’s money, they abandoned him on the side of the rode and stole his vehicle.  Pineda-Osorio, Sumpter, and Wilson then proceeded to Charlotte, North Carolina, where they robbed a convenience store.  The three committed a similar armed robbery at a store in Jonesville, North Carolina.  Later that same night, all three committed another robbery at the I-81 Travel Plaza in Wythe County, Virginia.  Soon after the robbery, law enforcement spotted the stolen vehicle in which they were traveling and a high-speed chase ensued. The vehicle eventually crashed and the defendants were taken into custody.  The guns used in the robberies were recovered and, while looking like real firearms, were determined to be BB guns.  At sentencing, the defendants each face a maximum of thirty-five years in prison.

The investigation of the case was conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives and Wythe County (VA) Sheriff’s Office, with assistance by Charlotte Mecklenburg (NC) Police Department, Jonesville (NC) Police Department, Montgomery County (VA) Sheriff’s Office, New River Valley (VA) Regional Jail, Orangeburg (SC) Department of Public Safety, Pulaski County (VA) Sheriff’s Office, Sarasota (FL) Police Department, South Carolina State Police, and Virginia State Police.

Assistant United States Attorney Randy Ramseyer is prosecuting the case for the United States.