HAMMOND — A former armored truck driver pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to taking part in one of this city’s largest robberies.
Akeem Jackson, 30, of Chicago, faces a lengthy prison term when U.S. District Court Judge Philip Simon sentences him Jan. 3, 2020, on robbery and armed robbery counts.
Jackson, dressed in an orange Porter County Jail jumpsuit, admitted he and four other men took part in a heist of more than $600,000 from a Brinks armored truck April 28, 2018, outside a Chase Bank branch in the 4200 block of Calumet Avenue.
He said he was one of a total of five men involved.
He said the others approached him to join them because he was a former Brinks driver and familiar with the armored truck company’s procedures.
Federal prosecutors said Jackson was employed by Brink's until 2016, when it fired him for failing to show up to work.
Jackson said he and two men drove in a brown 2002 Cadillac from his apartment in Chicago’s Bronzeville section April 28, 2018, to a hotel parking lot overlooking the bank.
He said once the Brinks truck driver arrived and got out to service an ATM, he confronted the driver with a realistic-looking “toy gun.”
He said one of his partners in crime also had a fake gun, but the third man, who he only identified by his street name “Lurch,” was armed with a real firearm “in case everything didn’t go down right.”
Jackson said the driver immediately fell to the ground and said, “Don’t kill me, take the money.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jennifer Chang said the evidence shows Jackson commandeered the Brinks driver’s key and firearm, and then grabbed the cash from the front of the armored truck.
Jackson said a second car appeared at the scene with two other men he hadn’t met before and together they all fled, abandoned the Cadillac in a field near State Line Road near 136th Avenue and set it ablaze.
The government alleges investigators were able to trace the Cadillac to Jackson and learned he and a woman had recently begun spending a lot of money and vacationed in Florida.
Police and the FBI confronted Jackson two months after the heist at his Chicago apartment, which he shared with his grandmother.
Police said they found more than $5,000 in cash and a diagram of the robbers’ plans in the apartment. The government said Jackson eventually confessed to taking part in the crime.
Police said last year, after Jackson’s arrest, the other suspects were still at large.
Jackson’s defense attorney, Sean Brown, sought to have Jackson’s confession and all the evidence police found in the apartment suppressed.
Brown argued the search was an unconstitutional intrusion into the defendant’s home and police coerced Jackson into confessing.
The judge heard evidence from Jackson, his relatives and police and viewed video tapes of the police interrogation before deciding this May that Jackson’s grandmother had given police permission to search the apartment and Jackson understood his right to remain silent and agreed to give it up without police intimidation.
After the judge ruled against the defense motion for suppression, Jackson signaled his interest in pleading guilty without a plea bargain.
Chang said the U.S. attorney’s office has made Jackson no promises of leniency in return for his guilty plea. She said he faces at least five years in prison and a maximum penalty exceeding 20 years for the felonies to which he is pleading guilty.
Brown told the judge there was no credible evidence Jackson was in imminent danger of injury or death if he refused to join the other men in the robbery.