MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) – One of the suspects in a Minneapolis cell phone theft ring, who is now facing racketeering charges, missed his court date on Monday.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has charged a dozen suspects with racketeering in the case.
Prosecutors are going after everyone involved in this alleged cell phone theft operation. Ranging from the ones violently stealing the devices, those distracting the victims, the people getting into the financial apps, and the getaway drivers and those selling the stolen phones overseas.
Local criminal defense attorney Marsh Halberg calls it a brilliant strategy to get tough on crime. Prosecutors cracking down on what appears to be a widespread cell phone theft ring targeting victims in popular Minneapolis bar areas for more than a year now.
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Rather than charge the cases individually, say as simple thefts or assaults, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office is going after everyone involved, identifying it as a criminal enterprise and charging 12 so far with racketeering.
With convictions potentially resulting in up to 20 years in prison.
“To kind of congregate them or aggregate them into an organization, a group that’s got a common scheme and plan to do things,” said Halberg. “So it’s a very aggressive approach.”
One of the alleged ringleaders, Zhongshuang Su, also known as Brandon Su, a Chinese national living just off Hennepin Avenue in southeast Minneapolis. He is known as the iPhone man in court filings.
The 32 year old allegedly sold the stolen phones overseas. Su posted a quarter-million dollars cash bail following his September arrest. He wasn’t home when we rang his doorbell Monday.
Also nowhere to be found on Monday was Alfonse Stuckey. Prosecutors accuse Stuckey of assisting in phone thefts through trickery, intimidation, or physical violence. His vehicle was reportedly used as a getaway in multiple incidents.
Stuckey no-showed for court on Monday, a warrant remains active for his arrest. It’s interesting in this alleged scheme, sometimes the defendants were accused of using violence.
Other times they’d get phones by deceiving a victim into handing it over to exchange, say social media details.
Stuckey’s attorney had no comment.
As for Su, or iPhone man, he is due back in short later this month.