HOUSTON – A 26-year-old security guard working at a downtown Houston nightclub has been convicted of his violent 2019 armed robbery, the U.S. Attorney’s Office announced Monday.
At the end of the five-day trial, the jury deliberated for 10 minutes before convicting Hakeem Alexander Coles of interfering with commerce by robbery and discharging a firearm in a violent crime.
Coles, of Minneapolis, Minnesota, used a fake identity to get hired as a security guard for Cle Nightclub. He worked there for about two weeks. Then, after the business closed on September 7, 2019, he robbed employees at gunpoint and demanded $20,000 in cash, prosecutors said.
At trial, the jury heard from witnesses and Cle employees who described the robbery and how Coles fired at them as he fled the scene.
Coles was later arrested in Louisiana. At that time, he was found in possession of a loaded firearm and the fake ID he used to get a job at Cle. Law enforcement was able to quickly discover his true identity.
The jury also heard evidence of another robbery Coles committed in Minneapolis three weeks before Cle’s robbery. In this case, Coles worked as a security guard at Cowboy Jacks Bar and Restaurant and also robbed employees during off hours. Coles pleaded guilty in 2020 and was sentenced to 17 years in federal prison for the case.
The defense attempted to convince the jury in that case that Coles did not commit the crime and was, in fact, the individual whose identity he stole. The jury did not believe these claims and found him guilty of the charges.
The sentence is set for August 26. Coles faces up to 20 years for the theft and a minimum of 10 years and up to life for the firearms charge, which must be served consecutively to any other prison sentences imposed.
Coles has been and will remain in custody pending sentencing.
The FBI conducted the investigation with assistance from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office; Gretna Louisiana Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations.
Officials said it was an example of coordination between law enforcement agencies that are part of the Houston Law Enforcement Violent Crime Initiative, which combines personnel and resources from numerous federal, state and local agencies. . The goal is to proactively combat and reduce violent crime in the Greater Houston area by targeting the region’s most violent offenders, increasing investigative and prosecutorial efforts, and improving training, awareness and public education. It stems from the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) program. Through the PSN, a wide range of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime issues in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them.
In May 2021, Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced a new effort to reduce violent crime, including gun violence which is often at its heart. The revitalization of the PSN, a two-decade-old, evidence-based, community-driven program focused on reducing violent crime, was an integral part of this effort. NSP’s updated approach, outlined in the department’s comprehensive violent crime reduction strategy, is guided by four key principles: fostering trust and legitimacy in our communities, supporting community organizations that help prevent violence, set targeted and strategic application priorities and measure results. of our efforts. The fundamental goal is to reduce violent crime, not simply to increase the number of arrests or prosecutions.
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