A couple hit the Burger King and Wendy’s drive-thrus. Feds made a federal case out of it

A couple has been charged in federal court for allegedly making drive-thru runs to a Miami Gardens Burger King and a North Miami-Dade Wendy’s on March 31.

While drive-thrus are the only option available during coronavirus emergency restaurant shutdowns, prosecutors say Amos Roberts, 33, and Tyra Nance, 21, hit the drive-thrus in the criminal way. They came back from the fast-food places, not with Whoppers and Biggie Bags, but $217 cash. The alleged method of acquisition was a black rifle.

Each is charged in Miami federal court with a Hobbs Act Robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Roberts also was charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm. Roberts was convicted of burglary with assault, grand theft and possession of burglary tools in 2015.

This rather pedestrian pair of robberies for a relatively picayune amount got bumped up to federal court by federal prosecutors classifying the alleged crime as a Hobbs Act robbery. That’s a robbery affecting interstate commerce. In theory, a Hobbs Act robbery can be any robbery of a chain store or any business that sends or receives goods or services across state lines.

Burger King and Wendy’s, whether the store is corporate-owned or franchised, are national chains.

March 14 through March 20

According to the criminal complaint, around 1 a.m. March 14, a couple in a silver Nissan Rogue rolled up to the Wendy’s at 18181 NW 27th Ave., ordered from the speaker, then pulled out a dollar bill to pay for the order.

“Once the cash register was opened, the male suspect exited the vehicle through the left rear door armed with a black firearm and reached into the cash register, taking approximately.$160 in U.S. currency,” the complaint said.

The complaint also mentioned the well-placed surveillance camera that caught everything.

Similarly observant, the complaint said, was the surveillance camera watching the drive-thru of the KFC at 4800 NW 183rd St., where robberies by the same method occurred on March 15 at 10:15 p.m. and March 17 at 10:19 p.m. Also observant was the cashier in the second robbery, who caught the first three letters of the Nissan’s license plate.

Using that, the complaint said, cops found a silver Nissan Rogue in the Garden Vista Apartments, 4601 NW 183rd St., on March 18. They got a search warrant to put a tracking device on the car the next day. But when it didn’t go anywhere for another day, cops took possession of the Nissan because it was an overdue rental car.

But the surveillance video, the complaint said, showed a suspect later identified as Amos Roberts.

March 31

Around 10:40 a.m., the pair pulled up to the Burger King drive-thru at 4727 NW 167th St., next to the Palmetto Expressway. The complaint says Nance, just before reaching the drive-thru menu, got out to cover the license plate. This obscured the license plate from the surveillance camera, but displayed Nance to the camera.

With the same method of operation as the previous robberies, the complaint says, Roberts snagged $110 and the pair left in a gray Chevrolet Impala. They drove down to the Wendy’s across from Miami-Dade College’s North Campus, 11925 NW 27th Pl., and repeated the job for a $107 take.

The previous robberies in mind, cops went to the Garden Vista Apartments around 3 p.m. and found the Impala parked in the same lot as the Nissan Rogue two weeks earlier. Roberts and Nance were arrested when they came out to the car, the complaint said, with $197 cash in Roberts’ fanny pack.

At the Miami Gardens Police Department, Roberts indulged in his right to remain silent. Nance, the complaint said, gave herself up as the driver in the day’s robberies and Roberts as the gunman. She denied any knowledge of the three robberies earlier in March.

*story by Miami Herald