HAMMOND | A Merrillville man who helped a woman rob an online dating acquaintance was sentenced to five years in federal prison, the U.S. attorney’s office said Friday.
Dedrick Bufkin, 20, previously pleaded guilty to brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and the federal government summarily dismissed a kidnapping charge against him.
The woman, Diamond Toney, 19, of Merrillville, pleaded guilty in September to using a firearm in relation to a crime of violence and aiding and abetting. She is awaiting sentencing.
The charges stem from an incident on March 17 when Toney began an online “chat” relationship with a Sauk Village man, and set up a date to meet him three days later at 73rd Avenue and Whitcomb Street in Merrillville. Driving up at 10 p.m. with the intention of picking up Toney, the man also encountered Bufkin, who put a gun to his head, according to the indictment.
He reported Bufkin and Toney tied him up, took his $100 and forced him into the trunk of his car. He said that after about four to five hours of driving around, stopping at local stores and hearing Bufkin and Toney “plot other robberies,” they released him. He then reported the incident to Merrillville police.
Police officers then went to Toney’s home where they found her with Bufkin. They both made spontaneous statements implicating themselves in the incident, waived their Miranda rights and confessed to robbing and tying up the victim, according to police.