Chicago man sentenced for cell-phone store robbery in Coldwater

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.  —  A 24-year-old Chicago man who helped rob a cell-phone store in Coldwater in 2016 will spend more than a decade in federal prison for the crime.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says Grand Rapids federal judge Gordon J. Quist sentenced Tramain Hill this week to 130 months in the federal pen, and ordered Hill to repay $42,129 in restitution. He’ll also have to serve three years under court supervision after he’s released from prison. Coldwater Police say the sentence was rendered after Hill pleaded guilty to one count of Interference with Commerce By Robbery.

Prosecutors say Hill and three “associates” met up in Kankakee, Illinois, in August 2016 to prepare to rob a cell-phone store. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says three of the four robbers have been prosecuted federally. And two of them still await sentencing in the Central District of Illinois.

The men had already stolen a car in Chicago, which they planned to use as a getaway vehicle, according to prosecutors. They say one of the thieves proceeded to hold up  what was then a Universal Wireless store at 849 E. Chicago Street, on the east side of Coldwater. A Sprint store is now at that location.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office says in a news release one of the robbers pulled out a gun and herded three employees and a customer into a back room.

“Once in the back room, the other robber bound everyone’s wrists and ankles with zip ties, stole the property of the employees and customer, and proceeded to steal approximately $40,000 in cell phones from the store. The robbers stashed their proceeds in a black trash bag and exited through the back door of the store. The robbers then traveled back to central Illinois, where they sold the cell phones to a fence.”

Coldwater Public Safety Director Mark Bartell says Hill’s conviction came after a lengthy investigation lead by Lt. Patrick Beeman of the Coldwater Police Department and Special Agent Brent Johnson of the FBI’s Kalamazoo Field Office.

“This was just great teamwork all around,” Bartell said, adding that several federal, state and local agencies assisted with the investigation. “Our officers did a good job with the initial response and crime-scene processing, but we soon realized we needed more resources.” That’s when FBI Field Offices in Kalamazoo, Milwaukee, Chicago and Central Illinois were brought in, along with the US Marshal’s Service.

Assistant United States Attorney Davin M. Reust prosecuted the case.


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