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Guilty plea entered in 2013 bank robbery

SoVaNow.com / August 11, 2021


Shaquan Dondrel Manson, one of three men accused of robbing the Bank of America Clarksville branch and Family Foods in Nelson in 2013, pleaded guilty to armed robbery and five related charges Friday in Mecklenburg County Circuit Court.

Circuit Court Judge Kimberly S. White accepted Manson’s guilty pleas and a motion by Mecklenburg County Commonwealth’s Attorney Allen Nash to dismiss 15 other charges against the defendant. Sentencing for Manson is set for Nov. 1 in Mecklenburg County Circuit Court.

Manson has been serving time in federal prison following his 2014 conviction for the robbery of Bowen’s Mini Mart in Oxford, N.C. and for carrying, brandishing, and discharging a firearm while committing a violent crime. In November 2014 he was sentenced to 146 months in prison and five years of supervised probation.

Nash said the delay in prosecuting Manson for the Bank of America and Family Foods robberies was due, in part, to him serving time in North Carolina. Nash also confirmed that any sentence Manson receives in Mecklenburg County will be in addition to his current prison sentence and will be served in Virginia. Manson’s projected release date from federal prison is June 19, 2025.

Manson’s lawyer, Charles Crowder, asked White for leniency in sentencing, telling her that his client has already served “much of the maximum prison sentence that he can get here [in Virginia].” Crowder was referring to the more than eight years his client has been incarcerated in North Carolina. He added that Mason “was only 18 at the time [of the robberies] and he was following along with an older brother.”

Nash painted a very different picture of Manson, describing him as a member of the Bloods criminal street gang along with his 21-year old brother and alleged accomplice Johnnie Manson Jr., who was 21 at the time of the bank and food store robberies. A third alleged accomplice was Michael Anthony Harris, 33 years old at the time.

Had the Manson case gone to trial, Nash said the facts would have shown that on June 2, 2013, Shaquan Manson, his brother Johnnie and Harris — described by Nash as the “criminal mastermind” — entered the Bank of America branch office at 701 Virginia Avenue wearing masks and brandishing firearms. They approached a teller demanding money. The teller complied by removing around $3,000 from the till and placing it in a bag carried by Shaquan Manson. As the trio fled the bank, an unspecified number of bills spilled from the unzippered bag and was recovered by the bank.

The FBI and the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office were called in to investigate the robbery.

In August the same three men were thwarted in their attempted robbery of the Family Foods convenience store on Highway 49 in Nelson.

The Manson brothers were arrested in Person County, N.C. a few days later after the sheriff’s office there received a tip of suspicious persons in the area. At the time of their arrest, Shaquan Manson had in his possession a backpack containing ski masks and gloves, and a firearm in his pants.

A database check by Person County deputies revealed that three men matching their descriptions were also wanted for questioning in connection with a string of armed robberies in the Granville County, N.C. area. The Manson brothers were subsequently charged in Granville County with robbery and kidnapping for their role in robberies at Bowen’s Mini Mart, Moore’s Grocery in Oxford, and Berea Mini Mart.

Harris was arrested four days later near Raleigh on charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, second degree kidnapping, larceny of a motor vehicle, possession of a stolen motor vehicle and discharge of a weapon into occupied property, also in connection with the Granville County area robberies.

Law enforcement later tied the three to the robberies in Mecklenburg County.

Both Johnnie Manson and Michael Harris are listed as “fugitives” in the Virginia courts system database. Neither have been tried or convicted in Mecklenburg County on charges related to their alleged involvement in the robberies of Bank of America and Family Foods, though charges are pending against both men.

In addition to armed robbery, Shaquan Manson pleaded guilty Friday to one count of breaking and entering, one count of conspiracy to commit armed robbery, one count of attempted robbery of a business with a gun, one count of involvement with a criminal street gang, and one count of wearing a mask in public.

The court dropped seven charges for use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, five charges for abduction with intent to extort money, one charge for wearing a mask in public, one charge for participation in a criminal street gang and one charge for robbery on or near a street.

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