Jurors connected a string of local armed robberies with brassieres.
August Anthony Ford, 35, was found guilty Thursday on four of six federal counts of robbery and weapons possession after a federal court trial. Because of his extensive criminal history, he could be handed more than 100 years in prison at his May 8 sentencing before U.S. District Judge Curtis Collier.
Ford's habit of searching the bras of his female victims or forcing them to strip to search for money hidden beneath their clothes connected the crimes for investigators.
Jurors found him guilty in the four instances in which federal prosecutor Chris Poole showed the bra behavior happened. The robber did not pull the bra trick in the two robberies for which Ford was found not guilty. Jurors also convicted him of weapons possession charges on each of the four robbery counts.
Lee Ortwein, Ford's attorney, told jurors at the end of his closing arguments to remember that it was his client's day in court.
Poole countered that they should also remember the female victims whom "Mr. Ford not only robbed at gunpoint but violat[ed] their bodies -- it's their day in court also."
Ford had armed robbery convictions from Hamilton County in 1998 and was convicted of weapons possession charges in each of the robberies for which the jury found him guilty.
He faces mandatory minimum sentences for the weapons charges, which add up to an estimated 97 years, along with up to 20 years for the robbery convictions.
Poole said the string of six robberies began in October 2010 at the CVS Pharmacy at 6802 Lee Highway. He said Ford then robbed the East Lake Postal Station, two hotels, a beauty supply store and a money store.
The jury convicted Ford on all but the pharmacy and beauty supply robberies.
Contact staff writer Todd South at email@example.com or 423-757-6347. Follow him on Twitter @tsouthCTFP.
Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...