Securing another guilty plea Thursday, prosecutors revealed new details about a group of suspects that set Uptown New Orleans on edge with a string of restaurant and bar robberies in 2015.
Under a deal with prosecutors, Shawn Dennis, 22, acknowledged his role in the gang involved in those robberies, as well as a number of shootings elsewhere in the city.
Criminal District Court Judge Keva Landrum-Johnson sentenced Dennis, who faced a maximum 144 years in prison if he went to trial, to a 10-year term. It was not clear if Dennis will be asked to testify at the trial of other alleged gang members accused in the restaurant robberies, which is set for March 5.
Dennis was not accused of first-hand involvement in the robberies of Patois and Atchafalaya restaurants and the Monkey Hill and Purple Rain bars between May and September 2015.
However, prosecutors said that he was part of the same gang that hatched those audacious stickups. He was also accused of posing as a New Orleans Police Department officer to rob a drug dealer in Algiers.
“We’re pleased that it’s over with, we’re satisfied with the outcome and we’re going to continue to pray for the convalescing of the victims,” said defense attorney John Fuller.
Dennis pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit armed robbery, attempted armed robbery with a firearm, three counts of aggravated battery and one count of illegal discharge of a firearm.
Assistant District Attorney Alex Calenda said Dennis was involved at the tail end of one of the gang’s most violent days.
Authorities accuse Wesley Davis and Rolandus Campbell of killing Harold Martin, 30, in a shootout in Gentilly on the night of May 11, 2015. Calenda said that within hours, Dennis took part in a plot with other gang members in Algiers to rob a drug dealer.
Posing as New Orleans Police Department officers, Dennis and the other men burst through the door of a house on Farragut Street, Calenda said.
The gunmen “ransacked” the apartment and eventually shot a woman and a man in the house as they attempted to flee, the prosecutor said. Police said at the time that all five or six perpetrators wore masks.
Calenda said Dennis was pleading guilty to the Farragut Street robbery as well as the gang’s “overall conspiracy.”
Three men pleaded guilty in the case before Dennis. Another, 23-year-old Devon Jasper, could do so at a hearing set for Friday.
Three more men — Wesley Davis, Larry Quinn and Rolandus Campbell — are set to go to trial in March. That proceeding could reveal new details about how a team of state and federal investigators connected them to one of the most notorious crime sprees in recent city history.