The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina announced that a federal jury in Elizabeth City found Smith Merinord guilty of three counts of Hobbs Act Robberies and for the use and carrying a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, and the firearm was brandished.
Merinord and a co-defendant were named in an Indictment filed on April 29, 2015. Merinord entered the Advance Auto Parts Store on Owen Drive in Fayetteville on November 2, 2013 armed with a small Uzi. He threatened the employees with the firearm during the robbery and raped and sexually assaulted a female employee before fleeing with cash. Later that day, Merinord and a co-defendant robbed another Advanced Auto on Roberts Avenue in Lumberton. Merinord again threatened store employees with the Uzi and fled with cash. On November 16, 2013, Merinord and an accomplice entered the Red Lobster located on McPherson Church Road in Fayetteville and held the manager at gunpoint and stole cash before fleeing. Off duty officers and other law enforcement apprehended Merinord and his accomplice in the CarMax parking lot located near the Red Lobster. Merinord had a small Uzi in his waistband.
At sentencing, Merinord faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 57 years to life imprisonment on the gun counts and up to 60 years on the Hobbs Act Robbery Counts.
This case was part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN) initiative which encourages federal, state, and local agencies to cooperate in a unified “team effort” against gun crime, targeting repeat offenders who continually plague their communities.
Investigation of this case was conducted by the Fayetteville Police Department and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF). Assistant United States Attorneys Frank Bradsher and Peggah Wilson represented the government.