Police: Carjackers targeted Detroit casino high-rollers

Posted at 1:58 PM, Jun 21, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-21 17:20:52-04

A carjacking scheme revealed that three suspects, two men and a woman, followed people from Detroit casinos and crashed into them on the freeway, carjacked them and stole money, according to authorities.

Kenneth Martez Gardner, Damon Kristopher Washington and Veronica sharp were arrested in connection with numerous carjackings occurred between Sept. 22-29 in 2017 around MGM Grand Casino in Detroit.

On Sept. 29, victims identified as JF and VG were driving north on I-75 when their car was struck by another car. While assessing the damage, JF noticed VG being held at gunpoint by an unknown man, later identified as Gardner.

According to the complaint, VG exited the car and asked Gardner why he hit their car. He then allegedly drew a pistol, stating, "Give me your phone, wallet and money." Both VG and JF gave him money, and then Gardner reportedly entered the car, a 2017 Chrysler 300, and left the scene.

The car Gardner left behind, a 2013 Nissan Sentra, was stolen in a carjacking that occurred on Sept. 26, 2017, where the victim, identified as LR, was driving on I-75 when she was struck from behind by another driver. 

After she stopped on the side of the road, the driver of that car drew a pistol and ordered her out of her car, then drove away in her vehicle. 

On Oct. 1, 2017, Michigan State Police discovered surveillance video showing a red Dodge Charger following a victim out of the casino. Investigators revealed that the license plate was registered to Washington.

While under surveillance, police observed the Charger pulling up to a work van in the parking lot of a senior living center in Detroit. Gardner allegedly exited the Charger and stole the van.

The Charger was then seen traveling to and around both MGM Grand and Motor City casinos in Detroit. The stolen van arrived in an area around the casinos at approximately 2 a.m. on Oct. 2 and drove slowly with the Charger in that area, including into and out of parking lots. 

According to the complaint, the Charger and van eventually followed a woman who left Motor City casino driving a 2010 Ford Taurus. At one point, the Charger and van puled alongside one another and words were exchanged between drivers. Afterwards, the van continued to follow the Taurus.

Officials say Gardner ultimately crashed the van he was driving into the Taurus on the Lodge freeway in Detroit. Once the Taurus pulled over onto the shoulder, the van's driver left his car and approached the driver of the Taurus.

After seeing the driver approach a potential victim, Michigan State Police troopers arrested the driver, identified as Gardner, where he was seen allegedly throwing a gun under the Taurus. Police found the gun, a pistol, which was reported stolen on July 17, 2017.

On Oct. 2, Gardner was interviewed and confessed to having the pistol in his possession. He told police he received the pistol from Washington earlier in the evening when they first met up. Gardner also told police that he struck the Taurus because he was trying to trick the driver into stopping so he could rob her.

A search of the Charger revealed an unfired pistol cartridge, along with numerous identification cards belonging to victim LF.

Washington and Gardner were indicted on Oct. 17 for conspiracy to commit carjacking for the 2005 Toyota Sienna on Sept. 22, the 2013 Nissan Sentra on Sept. 26 and the 2017 Chrysler 300 on Sept. 29.

Washington pleaded guilty to carjacking a motor vehicle, use of a firearm during and in relation to a violent crime, possession of device-making equipment, aggravated identity theft and possession of 15 or more counterfeit unauthorized access devices.

On Feb. 12, A co-conspirator told police that a woman, identified as Sharp, allegedly assisted Washington and Gardner in conducting the carjackings. Sharp would reportedly spend time in the casino's "high limit" gambling room and identify people with significant amounts of cash.

Sharp would allegedly follow people she believed had a lot of money in their possession out of the casino to the garage, then tell Washington which floor they parked on. Sharp would then get in a car with Washington and follow people out of the casino garage, the co-conspirator said.

Sharp was given around $1,500 for her assistance, the complaint alleges.

The co-conspirator told police that Sharp drove a green Mazda truck with Kentucky license plates and lived on the right of Gratiot Avenue before 8 Mile Road. 

Police obtained cellphone data that showed Sharp was in frequent contact with Gardner and Washington, and had also been in the location of the incidents listed above.


Carjackers targeted Detroit casino high-rollers by WXYZ-TV Channel 7 Detroit on Scribd