Newport News man, accused of 'masterminding' string of armed robberies, convicted by jury

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Posted at 4:32 PM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 16:34:50-05

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. – A federal jury convicted a Newport News man on 20 counts in connection with his participation in a series of more than 12 robberies of gas stations, convenience stores and fast-food restaurants across Virginia.

Christopher Ray Robertson, 36, served as the "mastermind" behind a series of retail business robberies in 2013 and 2014, according to court documents. The robberies stretched from Fredericksburg to Virginia Beach.

Robertson allegedly enlisted the help of convicted felon Michael Ellison, 30, to commit multiple robberies. Robertson selected the businesses, directed Ellison’s actions, and served as the lookout during the robberies.

Ellison and Robertson stopped working together for a year after robbing or attempting to rob four businesses in Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania.

Robertson then met Aquilla Jones, 31, in Durham, North Carolina, and the three people plus a juvenile connected in December 2014 to rob eight businesses. Robertson provided instructions to his co-conspirators during these robberies, and he and Jones served as lookouts while Ellison and the juvenile robbed the businesses.

On December 13, 2014, during a Subway restaurant robbery, people in the parking lot identified Ellison's vehicle, and he was arrested for the robbery in Spotsylvania County. Law enforcement further identified Robertson as a co-conspirator, and phone analysis showed Robertson’s phone in the immediate vicinity of all the robberies committed in 2014.

Jones and Ellison both pleaded guilty on February 6, 2019, and September 11, 2017, respectively, for their roles in the robberies.

Robertson was convicted of conspiracy to commit robbery, interference with commerce by robbery, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

He faces a mandatory minimum of 42 years in prison and a maximum of life when sentenced on July 20.