Asian restaurant robberies suspect pleads guilty in federal court
One of the men accused in a string of 39 armed robberies, many of them Asian restaurants around the Lowcountry, pleaded guilty in federal court today to his involvement.
The plea came just a day before the jurors for his co-defendants’ trial are scheduled to be selected.
Christopher Donnell Simmons, 33, of Wadmalaw Island, pleaded guilty to a total of four counts of an indictment that included weapons and conspiracy charges for armed robberies that occurred between 2009 and 2011.
Simmons wore an orange jail uniform with “GCDC” printed on the back while inside the Charleston federal courtroom. He’s currently being detained at the Georgetown County Detention Center.
He could face up to 20 years in prison for the conspiracy charges and a possible five years for the weapons charges. But it will take months before Simmons is sentenced.
As part of the agreement, Simmons is subject to restitution and must testify before the grand jury or in court and provide information to the investigation, according to statements made by prosecutors in court. Simmons is also subject to a polygraph test.
Raynard and Winard Eady of North Charleston were also indicted in connection to the string of robberies.
Police investigating the robberies identified possible suspects and began obtaining cell phone records in an effort to track their movements, according to prosecutors.
In February 2011, cell phone activity of the suspects showed them near Georgetown, where an armed robbery had taken place at a check cashing store. That led investigators to the home of Raynard Eady, where he and Simmons were arrested, prosecutors said in court.
Prosecutors would not comment on the case until after Simmons is sentenced and the case is closed. Simmons’ defense attorney, John Robert Haley, also denied request for comment.
Jury selection for the Eady brothers is expected to take place Tuesday morning in federal court in downtown Charleston where they are expected to appear, but the trial has not been scheduled yet, according to the federal docket.
Reach Natalie Caula at 937-5594 or Twitter.com/ncaula.