HAMMOND | A Merrillville man accused of helping a woman rob an online dating acquaintance reached a plea deal Thursday with federal prosecutors.
Dedrick Bufkin, 20, will plead guilty to brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, according to a plea agreement. The mandatory minimum sentence he can receive is seven years in prison. The charge carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.
In return for Bufkin's guilty plea, the federal government will dismiss a kidnapping charge against him.
His co-defendant, 19-year-old Diamond Toney, of Merrillville, is seeking a jury trial in U.S. District Court, which is set for Aug. 19 in Hammond. She is charged with kidnapping and using a firearm during a crime of violence.
On March 17, Toney began an online relationship with a Sauk Village man, whom she decided to meet three days later at 73rd Avenue and Whitcomb Street in Merrillville, according to court records. The man arrived at 10 p.m. to pick up Toney in his car, and as he pulled over to let her inside Bufkin walked up and pointed a gun at the man’s head, according to the indictment.
Bufkin and Toney then tied the man up, took $100 from him and put him the trunk of the car, the indictment states. The man told police the pair released him after four to five hours of driving around, stopping at stores and plotting other robberies, records state. The man went to Merrillville police after being released.
Police then went to Toney’s home, where they found her with Bufkin. Toney and Bufkin made spontaneous statements implicating themselves, waived their Miranda rights and confessed to robbing and tying up the man, the indictment states.