New Bern getaway driver in armed robbery sentenced to ten years in Federal Prison

New Bern Police Department (Todd Wetherington)
New Bern Police Department (Todd Wetherington)

Justin Pickens, 31, of New Bern was sentenced today to 120 months in prison for charges related to an armed robbery in New Bern, North Carolina.

According to court records and evidence presented in court, Justin Pickens and two of his co-defendants, Quamaime Donnell Smith and Francesco Greco, Jr., planned and executed an armed robbery of the Five Points gas station in New Bern on May 17, 2021. The robbery was captured on the video surveillance footage from inside the store. The footage shows two male suspects enter the store, one armed with a handgun and the other armed with a tire iron. The robber with the gun, Smith, could been seen striking the store clerk in the head with his gun. The two robbers then emptied the cash register and fled the store in a getaway vehicle driven by Pickens. In total, the three stole roughly $3,000 in cash from the store. New Bern Police located and arrested all three suspects within 24 hours of the robbery and recovered the firearm used during the robbery.

“Brutal armed robberies like this one leave victims traumatized for years, and sometimes with lifelong physical limitations. This gas station attendant was not just held-up, he was pistol-whipped in the head. Hardworking people should never be subjected to violence just for doing their jobs,” said U.S. Attorney Michael Easley. “The FBI and New Bern Police worked hard to get justice for this victim.  And, for his role in a violent crime that netted roughly $3,000, this defendant and his co-conspirators are now spending time behind bars.”

“The New Bern Police Department serves and protects the citizens and businesses within the City,” said New Bern Police Chief Patrick Gallagher. “Our daily goal is to create and maintain a peaceful place to live, work, and visit. These perpetrators committed a heinous act of assaulting the clerk and robbery of the business. Members of the agency worked together tirelessly, using various investigative techniques and methods, to bring about the best possible outcome for the victim, as well as those within the community. Let this outcome serve as notice to criminals that the New Bern Police Department will bring the full weight of the justice system on individuals who threaten the balance of peace within our community.”

Pickens, the getaway driver, was named in a one count indictment on July 21, 2022, charging him with interference with commerce by robbery and aiding and abetting. He pleaded guilty on February 23, 2023. Greco was sentenced to 40 months on April 21, 2022, and Smith was sentenced to 144 months on May 25, 2022.

Michael F. Easley, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Terrence W. Boyle. The New Bern Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation investigated the case. Assistant U.S. Attorney Leonard Champaign prosecuted the case.

Related court documents and information can be found on the website of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina or on PACER by searching for Case No. 4:22-CR-00038-BO.

By U.S. Attorney’s Office, Eastern District of North Carolina