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Las Vegas jury convicts man in jewelry store heists

Updated December 19, 2018 - 7:24 pm

A Las Vegas man was convicted Wednesday of orchestrating a pair of jewelry store heists just months after walking away from similar robbery charges because of a legal blunder.

Jurors took roughly five hours to convict Brian Wright of two counts each of using a firearm during a crime of violence, interfering with commerce by robbery and conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery.

Federal prosecutors argued that Wright had conspired with several others, who later testified against him, to commit two armed jewelry store robberies in January 2017.

Wright, who acted as his own attorney throughout the weeklong trial, lowered his head after the verdict was read. He faces at least 30 years behind bars at a March sentencing.

Prosecutors declined to comment after the verdict.

Throughout the trial, Wright accused prosecutors and the lead FBI agent on his case of scheming as part of a vendetta against him after he walked out of court a free man in July 2016.

While Wright did not enter the stores, prosecutors told jurors that phone records showed he was nearby and communicating with the gunmen during a holdup at Jared The Galleria of Jewelry on North Rainbow Boulevard and at MJ Christensen Diamonds on West Charleston Boulevard.

More than $800,000 worth of merchandise was stolen.

Wright kept watch and listened to a police scanner while the robberies occurred, and his fingerprint was found on a garbage bag that held some of the jewels, the prosecutors said.

In the trial that started last week, Wright was not allowed to refer to a previous prosecution error that let him walk free in a case that could have led to a 100-year prison sentence.

In 2016, the government failed to turn over key evidence to Wright until the morning of his trial in the 2014 holdups in which more than $1.1 million in merchandise was stolen from Jared and two other jewelry stores.

Wright’s method of operation in 2014, according to prosecutors, matched his actions in 2017: He recruited gunmen and getaway drivers to carry out the robberies. He usually would be in the area and would collect the stolen goods, prosecutors alleged.

Contact David Ferrara at dferrara@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-1039. Find @randompoker on Twitter.

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