Larry Pratt of Decatur has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for his part in a robbery crew that impersonated police officers and robbed suspected drug dealers in several counties, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The crew committed robberies in Rockdale, Fulton, Bartow and Cobb counties, federal officials said. In many cases, the suspects trailed the alleged drug dealers to their houses, then broke in dressed as police. Once inside a victim’s house, the robbers tied up the inhabitants and beat them until they told the robbers where to find drugs and money.
“By impersonating police and invading houses in residential areas, this robbery crew undermined the public’s trust in real law enforcement officers,” said United States Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “Citizens must be able to trust that those who look like police are, in fact, really police. Although it may be tempting to characterize this as merely drug dealer on drug dealer crime, the fact that this robbery crew also used SWAT-like tactics, kidnapped victims, and exchanged gunfire on residential streets to steal drugs and cash demonstrates a lack of respect for people’s lives.”
According to testimony and court documents, Pratt and the five other men indicted with him by the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office belonged to a robbery crew that used tracking devices they secretly put on the victims’ cars to learn their habits and where their intended victims stored drugs and money.
The armed robbers would dress like police, including wearing bullet-proof vests, raid jackets, and hats with the word “POLICE” printed on them. They would then storm the victims’ houses yelling “Police, get down” and then tie up and beat the victims until they provided the location of the drugs and money.
In a Jan. 14, 2010 robbery, authorities said Pratt and nine other robbers targeted a residence in DeKalb County. Dressed as police, the group rushed a victim walking out of his house, and handcuffed him on the front lawn and shot at the victim’s friend as he drove up to the house. A gunfight between the friend and the robbers took place in the front yard.
The robbers then kidnapped the victim in order to get him to divulge where the drugs were located; they drove the victim around for several hours, and he was certain he would be killed. Prosecutors said the ordeal ended only when the robbers drove the victim to his residence in Conyers, and his girlfriend called police.
Pratt, 40, was sentenced to 17 years in prison, and five years of supervised release. He pleaded guilty on Nov. 10, 2011, and his sentencing was delayed until after the trial of his co-defendants.
One other member of the crew, Ryan Whitt of Decatur, was sentenced in January to 16 years in prison.
Two members of the crew are from Atlanta: Charles Hutcheson, aka Charlie Boy, who was sentenced to 19 years, six months in prison, and Taylor Richardson, who is scheduled to be sentenced on April 15.