Source: US State of California
FRESNO, Calif. — A two-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury was unsealed today, charging six defendants with one count of conspiracy to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce and one count of robbery affecting interstate commerce. The indictment charges the following defendants with both conspiracy and robbery in connection with the robbery of a Calaveras County marijuana distributor: Talia Khio, 42, of Chicago, Illinois; Dontia Arrington, 38, of Skokie, Illinois; Roddy Aundre Johnson, Jr., 30, of San Diego, California; Mark Noble, 32, of Willamette, Illinois; Jimmy Khio, 41, of Morton Grove, Illinois; and Carlos Merkhai, 42, of Phoenix, Arizona.
U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott stated, “This indictment demonstrates our offfice’s commitment to working with and supporting our local law enforcement partners. We are proud to have answered the call when Calaveras County District Attorney Barbara Yook reached out to us for assistance in prosecuting this case involving individuals who crossed state lines to commit violent crimes in our district. It is through partnerships like these that we can work together to keep our communities safe.”
“This case serves as an excellent example of the FBI’s commitment to working with federal, state, and local partners to aggressively investigate and disrupt violent criminals that threaten the safety and security of our communities,” said Special Agent in Charge Sean Ragan of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Sacramento Field Office. “Through our Safe Streets Task Force, the FBI relies on these partnerships to target those who target our neighborhoods with violent crimes such as those charged today. I would like to thank all of our partners for their collaboration and tireless work on this investigation.”
According to court documents, on June 24, 2018, the six defendants conducted an armed robbery of a Calaveras County marijuana distributor. The defendants allegedly bound and blindfolded several victims and tortured one victim with a stun gun. One victim was beaten with a baseball bat, which caused multiple injuries. The defendants allegedly took over 100 pounds of processed marijuana and $30,000 in cash. After a high speed chase, officers arrested Talia Khio, Dontia Arrington, Roddy Aundre Johnson, Jr., and Mark Noble. Jimmy Khio and Carlos Merkhai were apprehended months later.
This case was the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Calaveras County Sheriff’s Office, California Highway Patrol, and the Skokie Police Department, with special assistance from the Calaveras County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant United States Attorneys Jeffrey A. Spivak and Ross Pearson are prosecuting the case.
If convicted, the defendants each face a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reinvigorated PSN in 2017 as part of the Department’s renewed focus on targeting violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally based strategies to reduce violent crime.