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Authorities: Five arrested after allegedly traveling cross country to rob Bitcoin from local teen

Five men have been arrested by the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office for allegedly plotting to invade the home of a local teenager and steal nearly $1 million in Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

According to Cpl. Doug Rainwater of the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, authorities were alerted to the plot in January 2018 when a report indicated, “that individuals from out of state were possibly traveling to Forsyth County to commit this robbery.”

Rainwater said that on Jan. 29, 2018, four suspects – Trivette Adams, Matthew Schwartz, Jacob South and Michael McDermont – were located by the sheriff’s office narcotics unit in a local hotel, allegedly in possession of zip ties, latex gloves, duct tape and bandanas, but were released shortly after due to “insufficient evidence that a crime had been committed.” 

“Continued investigation by the Sheriff’s Office Major Crimes Unit that night resulted in the connection of the four previously contacted suspects with the planned robbery,” Rainwater said. “Detectives secured arrest warrants for all four suspects and immediately set about attempting to locate them.”

Adams, a 20-year-old from Pflugerville, Texas and McDermott, an 18-year-old from Rossville, California, were arrested Jan. 30, 2018 near the Atlanta Airport attempting to leave the state by plane. Both have since been charged with counts of strong arm robbery and criminal trespass.

Rainwater said that South, a 21-year-old from Norcross and Schwartz, an 18-year-old from Hesperia, California, initially eluded capture in Georgia, but were located and captured in Chicago the next day. Both have been charged with one count of strong arm robbery.

Through investigations a fifth suspect, Justin Eric Ellison, 20, of Worth, Illinois, was identified and located in Illinois by Forsyth County Detectives. Rainwater said that Ellison was arrested May 11, 2018, after being extradited back to Forsyth County by the United States Marshal’s Service. He has been charged with one count of strong arm robbery and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Rainwater said that the four initial suspects had allegedly been “staking out” a local residence and were caught before they had a chance to carry out the plot.

“They knew the premises, knew the routines of the occupants,” Rainwater said. “They had everything figured out.”

He said that their intended victim reportedly had up to 80 Bitcoins, which could have been worth up to $800,000.

All five of the men have been booked into the Forsyth County Jail, and were denied bond.

“The Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office is committed to pursuing criminals regardless of where it may take us,” Rainwater said. “Forsyth County is certainly not the place to plan such a criminal act.”

The Atlanta Police Department, Chicago Police Department and United States Marshal’s Service assisted the sheriff’s office in this incident.

Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency, is a decentralized digital currency that’s not bound or regulated by any bank. Cryptocurrencies can be exchanged online for cash. A growing number of services and products as common as fuel from a gas station can be bought using cryptocurrencies.

This arrest comes one day after reports that $300,000 worth of cryptocurrency mining servers were stolen from gubernatorial candidate Michael Williams’ office in Gainesville.