Archived Story

Pizza robbery ringleader convicted

Published 10:54am Friday, June 7, 2013

CASSOPOLIS — In April 2012, four young adults with Chicago-area connections lured a pizza delivery person to an abandoned home in Dowagiac, where they robbed him at gunpoint. 

 

On June 6, the final member — and ringleader — of the Chicago cabal was convicted at jury trial for his involvement in this potentially deadly endeavor. 

 

Dylin Ackah-Essien, 18, of 6102 N. Seely Basement, Chicago, Ill., was found guilty of eight felony charges, including armed robbery, and now faces up to life in prison at sentencing.

 

The trial began Tuesday morning and concluded late Thursday afternoon.

 

Cass County Assistant Prosecutor Tiffiny Vohwinkle adduced evidence in the courtroom  which also revealed Ackah-Essien as the gunman in the pizza heist.  

 

Testimony indicated that Ackah-Essien and three other Chicagoland teens, Martel Jones, Michael Smith and Anteyon Russell, were visiting a Dowagiac-area friend last April when they decided to try and acquire cash and merchandise at the expense of a local business. 

 

Their plans included placing an order for several pizzas and asking for delivery to an abandoned residence at 404 Thickstun St. in Dowagiac.

 

Once the delivery person arrived, they lured him into the residence with the promise of payment for the delivery. 

 

Upon entering the vacant home, however, the delivery person found himself surrounded by three of the robbers. 

 

At that point, the defendant pointed a gun at the victim, threatening to kill him if he didn’t cooperate. 

 

Michael Smith grabbed the pizza delivery man while another member of the group ran his pockets, grabbing everything of value, including money, cell phone and a Nintendo gaming system.

 

The three defendants then rushed out of the building, joined with their fourth partner and sped away in the pizza delivery vehicle. 

 

Dowagiac police officers responded to the scene and quickly began to reconstruct the event through interviews with area witnesses. Their investigation, headed by Sgt. Jarrid Bradford, eventually led to the four offenders who had fled back to the Windy City.  Arrest warrants were secured, the offenders apprehended and prosecution initiated.

 

The jury took approximately one hour to convict Ackah-Essien of the following charges: conspiracy to commit armed robbery, armed robbery, unlawful imprisonment, larceny from a motor vehicle, carrying a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, unlawful driving away an automobile, larceny in a building and receiving and concealing $200-$1,000.

 

The other three co-defendants were previously convicted of various counts of armed robbery arising from the incident and sentenced to prison.

 

Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz commented, “Anyone who engages in this type of thuggery in Cass County is going to suffer severe consequences. We simply aren’t going to tolerate it.”

 

The defendant is set for sentencing in front of Judge Michael Dodge on July 12 at 8:30 a.m.

 

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