ROCKFORD — A man has been convicted of federal robbery and firearm charges in connection with a series of violent retail store robberies in Rockford.
After a seven-day trial in U.S. District Court in Rockford, the jury on Tuesday convicted RICKEY CLAYBRON, 35, of Rockford, on one count of conspiracy to commit robbery, three counts of robbery, one count of attempted robbery, two counts of brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and two counts of discharging a firearm during a crime of violence. Claybron faces a maximum sentence of life in prison when he is sentenced next year.
The conviction was announced by John R. Lausch, Jr., United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; and Emmerson Buie, Jr., Special Agent-in-Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the FBI. The investigation was conducted by the FBI-led Rockford Area Violent Crime Task Force, which includes law enforcement officers and agents from the FBI, Rockford Police Department, Loves Park Police Department and Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Jessica S. Maveus and Kaitlin Klamann.
According to evidence presented at trial, Claybron and his co-conspirators conducted four violent robberies in the fall of 2015:
- Oct. 28, 2015: H&A Tobacco, 1623 Broadway in Rockford. Claybron entered the store, pointed his gun at a clerk, and ordered the clerk and a customer to get on the ground. Cash and multiple cartons of cigarettes were stolen from the store, along with the clerk’s personal belongings.
- Nov. 2, 2015: Advance Auto, 3019 Auburn St. in Rockford. During the robbery, a store employee was ordered at gunpoint to lay on the ground while another employee was ordered to open the cash registers. One employee was struck in the side of the face with a gun and later shot at when he ran from the store. The robbers stole cash from the store and from one of the employees.
- Nov. 5, 2015: Zake Convenience, 824 7th St. in Rockford. In this attempted robbery, Claybron entered the store first, pointing a gun directly at store clerks and then reaching behind a partition waving his gun. When Claybron was unable to gain access to the cash register, he and the other robbers fled the store.
- Nov. 13, 2015: Shell Express, 3003 11th St. in Rockford. Claybron pointed a sawed-off shotgun at customers while a co-conspirator, DEANDRE R. HAYWOOD of Rockford, pointed a gun at store employees and grabbed cigarettes and cash from the registers. Haywood then shot one of the employees in the back while Claybron struck an employee in the head with his shotgun.
Haywood and a third co-conspirator, DARNELL LEAVY of Rockford, pleaded guilty prior to trial. Haywood was sentenced to 26 and a half years in federal prison, while Leavy was sentenced to eleven and a half years.