Two men have been sentenced to lengthy prison terms by a federal judge in Raleigh. Chief United States District Judge Terrence W. Boyle sentenced brothers Justin Whitaker, 27, and Sterling Whitaker, 22, of Goldsboro. Justin Whitaker received a sentence of 147 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release. Sterling Whitakes was sentenced to 126 months imprisonment, followed by 5 years of supervised release.
The Whitakers were named in an Indictment filed on August 7, 2019 charging them with conspiracy to rob the CVS, robbery of the CVS in Wilmington and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. On November 1, 2019, both men pled guilty to those charges.
On February 7, 2018, officers with the Wilmington Police Department were notified by the 911 Center that three armed men had entered the CVS located on Market Street and stolen money from the business. Deputies from the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office interviewed the clerks. The clerks provided information that the men came in armed with firearms and demanded access to the pharmacy. Despite the clerks telling the men they did not have access to the pharmacy, the men led them at gunpoint to the safe and demanded entry. The men put the clerks in the bathroom, stole their cellular phones, and left the CVS. The clerks gave a description of a car they saw just prior to the robbery that they believed to be involved.
Wilmington Police saw a car that matched the description given by the clerks and attempted a traffic stop. The car fled, refusing to stop for the officers. The car fled on Market Street at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour. The car drove in the wrong lane into oncoming traffic, before the driver eventually lost control and crashed. Three occupants of the car ran from the car wreck. Justin Whitaker was tased and taken into custody immediately. Sterling Whitaker was apprehended a short time later. The third individual was not caught. Law enforcement found three firearms and checks and cash belonging to the CVS in the car.
Justin Whitaker was taken to the sheriff’s department after his discharge from the hospital. He gave law enforcement a false name and then escaped from the interview room. He was found a short time later.
This case is part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), a program bringing together all levels of law enforcement and the communities they serve to reduce violent crime and make our neighborhoods safer for everyone. Since 2017 the United States Department of Justice has reinvigorated the PSN program and has targeted violent criminals, directing all U.S. Attorney’s Offices to work in partnership with federal, state, local, and tribal law enforcement and the local community to develop effective, locally-based strategies to reduce violent crime.
That effort has been implemented through the Take Back North Carolina Initiative of The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina. This initiative emphasizes the regional assignment of federal prosecutors to work with law enforcement and District Attorney’s Offices on a sustained basis in those communities to reduce the violent crime rate, drug trafficking, and crimes against law enforcement.
The investigation of this case was conducted by the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Department, the Wilmington Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).