MONTCLAIR, Calif. (KABC) -- A 22-year-old from San Bernardino County was sentenced to five years in prison Thursday for a two-month smash-and-grab robbery spree targeting cellphone stores across Southern California, the Department of Justice announced.
Tony Tyron Lee Stewart of Highland led 52 smash-and-grab robberies at T-Mobile and AT&T stores throughout the region, authorities said.
He's also been ordered to pay $333,122 in restitution.
Stewart pleaded guilty in June to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.
According to the DOJ, Stewart and two other men - 21-year-old Rayford Newsome of Compton and 21-year-old Jerome Gregory Belser of San Bernardino - robbed T-Mobile stores in Long Beach, Carson, Inglewood, Encino, and Camarillo on Jan. 15.
They all used hammers to smash security display cases and stole phones, watches, and other electronic devices, authorities said.
Investigators said they fled from officers when they tried to pull them over during a traffic stop and led officers on a chase through North Hollywood.
The DOJ said in addition to those robberies, Stewart and the others committed smash-and-grab robberies at cellphone stores in Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, San Bernardino, and Kern counties from November 11, 2021 to January 13, 2022.
"The robberies - several of which occurred on the same date - resulted in a loss of approximately $293,444. In addition, the robberies caused approximately $46,376 in damage to the stores," said the DOJ in a statement.
Both Newsome and Belser have pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.
Belser was sentenced to 70 months in prison. Newsome's sentencing hearing is scheduled for January 2023.
"Stewart and his co-defendants terrorized cell phone stores throughout Southern California, traumatizing employees and customers in over 50 different stores in just over two months - all for [Stewart's] own personal gain," prosecutors argued in a sentencing memorandum. "In almost each of these...robberies, there were between two and four employees present along with multiple customers. Each employee is forced to return to these work locations, provide customer service, and attempt to earn a living a while dealing with the fear and anxiety that they may again be robbed or threatened with a dangerous weapon while at work."