Eight people from St. Paul and four from Minneapolis and Bloomington have been charged with running a year-long cell phone theft ring in downtown Minneapolis that victimized more than 40 people and resulted in $300,000 in losses, according to prosecutors.
The Hennepin County attorney’s office announced Tuesday that 11 men and one woman were charged by warrant with one count each of racketeering in connection with the “highly organized criminal enterprise” that spanned June 2021 through May.
According to the 26-page criminal complaint against the defendants:
Some in the group would target people on the streets of downtown — mostly intoxicated bar patrons at closing time — and steal their phones through distraction, trickery or violent robberies. One theft also happened in Dinkytown.
Other group members then used the phones to access the owner’s bank, cash and digital currency and transfer the funds to others of the theft ring.
The phones then were sold, often to a single known buyer, Zhongshuang Su, a 32-year-old Minneapolis man who resold them locally and abroad.
Nearly 50 shipments of phones were sent to Hong Kong, while another 30 shipments were sent to an address next to Lepot Chinese Hotpot, a Southeast Minneapolis restaurant co-owned by Su, who was known by the group as “the iPhone Man,” the charges against him state.
The criminal complaint details 33 incidents that were organized by the group and resulted in the victims losing $159,000 in cash, $85,000 in cryptocurrency and $25,000 in stolen phones.
In addition to Su, others charged are St. Paul residents Aaron Johnson, 25, Sharlotte Green, 21, Charlie Pryor Jr., 18, Charlie Pryor Sr., 41, Alfonze Stuckey, 23, Sherrod Lamar, 23, Emarion White, 18, and Antonio Green, 19; Bloomington resident Lawrence Miles, 22; and Minneapolis residents Heiron Birts and David Mullins, both 26.
A racketeering conviction carries up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of three times the gross value gained during the operation, according to the attorney’s office.