Leader of Jewelry Robbery Crew Gets 55 Years in Prison

SANTA ANA (CNS) - The leader of a ring that staged a series of daytime smash-and-grab robberies at Southern California jewelry stores that netted $6 million worth of Rolexes and other high-end watches was sentenced today to 55 years in federal prison.

Keith Marvel Walton, 47, of South Los Angeles -- a senior member of an Inglewood street gang that organized the heists -- was sentenced in Santa Ana by U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

During the hearing, Carney said the robberies, which were ``planned, organized and led” by Walton, and were carried out during the day in shopping malls, ``terrified people and traumatized them for the rest of their lives.”

Walton, who is also known by the nicknames ``Green Eyes” and ``Fly Guy,” is likely ``the most dangerous, prolific, and incorrigible criminal who has ever appeared before the court for sentencing,” federal prosecutors wrote in a sentencing memorandum filed with the court.

Walton was one of five men convicted following a five-week trial last summer. Guilty verdicts against the fifth defendant were overturned by the court in a matter currently being appealed by prosecutors.

The jury convicted Walton of conspiring to violate the Hobbs Act by planning the jewelry store robberies, as well as participating in three of the robberies, two of which involved firearms.

Walton committed the offenses soon after pleading guilty in federal court to being a convicted felon in possession of firearms and ammunition. Walton's extensive criminal record, according to court documents, also includes a 1995 federal conviction for participating in a Hobbs Act robbery of Texas drug store and using a firearm in that robbery.

"Walton is dangerous, violent, and manipulative,” according to the government's sentencing memo. ``He knows little else but crime and violence.”

Prosecutors have secured convictions against a total of 19 defendants who were involved in at least one of the smash-and-grab robberies. Last week, one of those defendants -- Stanley Ford, 49, of Lancaster -- was sentenced to 25 years in prison for participating in five of the robberies.

Photo: Getty Images

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