Two of six defendants in what authorities say was a botched burglary last summer at a local outlet mall entered guilty pleas Thursday.
“I got in with the wrong crowd,” Jermichael Jerod Lockette told Superior Court Judge Jason Deal as he awaited sentencing. “I should have been home taking care of my kids.”
Lockette, 20, and Deyancious Maritou Lewis, 18, each admitted his involvement in the June 10 attempted burglary at the Saks Fifth Avenue Outlet.
Both men pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit burglary, conspiracy to commit theft by taking, conspiracy to commit criminal damage to property and attempted burglary, among others.
Deal sentenced Lewis to serve three years of a 10-year term. Lockette, who had a prior felony conviction, also received a 10-year sentence, but with five years to serve.
After the sentencing Faye Lockette, the defendant’s mother, said her son “pleaded to something he did not do so he could get back to his children faster.”
Lockette and Lewis were arrested June 10 after authorities say they backed up a stolen van to the Saks outlet. A security guard noticed the suspicious activity.
Also arrested were James Edward Burson, 48, Abby Marba Holland, 27, Altavious Demon Jackson, 24, and Demarcus Smith, 18, all of the metro Atlanta area.
Burson, Jackson and Smith also were in court on Thursday but did not enter pleas. Their next court date has not been scheduled.
“I’m not pleading to anything,” Burson shouted out in the courtroom.
Authorities say Burson and Holland traveled to the area to pick up the others, who had crashed a van on Ga. 400 in Forsyth County and eluded officers for several hours.
In addition to the burglary charges, the suspects also were charged with violating Georgia’s Street Gang Terrorism and Prevention Act.
John Wilbanks, assistant district attorney for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, said the office agreed not to prosecute Lewis and Lockette for gang affiliation in exchange for their negotiated guilty pleas on the other counts, Wilbanks said.
Authorities say the group likely is connected to the well-publicized designer jeans burglaries of recent years in metro Atlanta.
“We feel this is a well-organized gang of thieves,” Wilbanks said.
Less than a month before the June 10 incident, more than $10,000 in jeans was taken from the same Dawson County outlet.
Within hours, those jeans showed up for sale on the Internet, authorities said. No one has been charged in that case.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.