South Florida

Armed robbers dressed in drag hit Florida jewelry stores. Now, they’re going to prison

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Four Broward County men convicted of holding up a series of jewelry stores while dressed in drag were sentenced Thursday between 34 years and life in prison by a federal judge.

Their M.O. wasn’t just brandishing pistols during the holdups, according to evidence at trial in March. The men dressed up as women with wigs during the armed robberies of three jewelry stores in Deerfield Beach, Spring Hill and Port St. Lucie in Florida and one in Valdosta, Georgia, in the spring of 2017.

The spree, charged under the federal Hobbs Act because the armed robberies affected interstate commerce, ended in Port St. Lucie.

As police arrived at LSO Jewelers in Port St. Lucie, two of the robbers fled on foot while their getaway driver left in a Jeep without them. One suspect was arrested at a nearby hospital wearing only his underwear and a sock, and the driver was picked up at a nearby restaurant. The third suspect held four Canadian snowbirds at gunpoint for several hours at a retirement community, before forcing them to drive him from Port St Lucie to Fort Lauderdale.

U.S. District Judge Kenneth Marra sentenced Jerome Simmons, 31, of Fort Lauderdale to three consecutive life sentences; Emmory Moore, 34, of Coral Springs, to two consecutive life sentences; Adrian Hardy, 34, of Fort Lauderdale to 40 years; and Christopher Brinson, 33, of Fort Lauderdale, to 34 years.

The armed robbery case was investigated by agents with the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Jay Weaver writes about bad guys who specialize in con jobs, rip-offs and squirreling away millions. Since joining the Miami Herald in 1999, he’s covered the federal courts nonstop, from Elian’s custody battle to A-Rod’s steroid abuse. He was on the Herald team that won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news in 2001. He and three Herald colleagues were Pulitzer Prize finalists for explanatory reporting in 2019 for a series on gold smuggled from South America to Miami.

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