‘Hoodie’ bandit convicted of 27 counts in 14 robberies

Following an 11-day trial, a federal jury Thursday convicted the so-called “Cinched Hoodie Robber” of all 27 counts stemming from 14 armed robberies, mostly convenience stores, in 2013.

Abdul Howard, 48, also known as Lesley Long, was accused of pulling off the armed robberies during a crime spree between January and April 2013. A previous trial on the charges ended in a mistrial in October after several days.

Howard, who is in federal custody, was charged with shooting a store clerk in the neck, seriously wounding him, in one of the robberies. The heists occurred across the valley at 13 convenience stores and one small casino.

Because of his lengthy criminal history, Howard could get a mandatory sentence of life in prison on each of the charges. He has felony convictions in Nevada, New York and Florida dating to 1980.

Chief U.S. District Judge Gloria Navarro set his sentencing for Nov. 6.

“Violent criminals such as Abdul Howard are a threat and danger to the entire community,” Nevada U.S. Attorney Daniel Bogden said after the verdict. “We are pleased to be able to assist local law enforcement and use federal laws in these types of cases, which carry stiff mandatory minimum penalties and ensure that career criminals such as Mr. Howard are incarcerated for very long periods of time.”

In all, Howard was convicted of 14 felony counts of interference with commerce by robbery, 12 counts of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence and one count of felon in possession of a firearm. The jury spent the past two days deliberating Howard’s fate.

Howard showed little emotion in court, avoiding eye contact with the jury as Navarro read the verdicts.

Howard also is waiting to be tried on a series of violent crime charges in Clark County District Court stemming from the sexual assault and slaying of a 64-year-old woman and the robbery and sexual assault of a 79-year-old woman.

Earlier in the week, Howard didn’t make it easy on federal marshals to take court-ordered photographs of him wearing a hooded sweatshirt found at the scene of one of the robberies he was accused of committing.

Federal prosecutors ended up presenting the jury with photos of the multiple felon sticking his tongue out and making faces with the hoodie cinched around his head.

Navarro had ordered marshals to forcibly take the photos after Howard refused to voluntarily be photographed wearing the key evidence in the case.

Assistant U.S. Attorneys Cristina Silva and Phillip Smith Jr. made the unusual request for Howard to be photographed in the hoodie as part of an effort to identify him as the man they allege committed the crimes.

They wanted the jury to compare Tuesday’s photos with previously submitted photos taken from surveillance videos of the suspect wearing the hooded sweatshirt.

Prosecutors contended that Howard’s DNA was found on the hoodie, which was cinched around his ahead to conceal his facial features.

Defense lawyers Shari Kaufman and Rebecca Levy had objected to showing the pictures to the jury, arguing it would violate Howard’s constitutional rights and deny him a fair trial.

Contact Jeff German at jgerman@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-8135. Find him on Twitter: @JGermanRJ.