Man Uses Grindr App to Kidnap and Rob Dates
January 5, 2023 Don Pumphrey, Jr. Criminal Defense, News & Announcements, Theft/Property Crimes, Violent Crimes Social Share
The FBI’s Violent Crimes Task Force is alleging that a Miami resident has been using the popular gay dating app, Grindr, to lure and rob men. After two different instances of carjacking, robbing, and kidnapping, investigators traced the crimes back and arrested the alleged offender.
This article will provide the case’s details along with information on the various criminal charges and their penalties in Florida.
What was the Case?
Miami-Dade native Stevenson Charles was arrested after being accused of robbing two men he met on the dating app Grindr. According to the report, the first robbery took place on October 23rd, 2022 when the victim met Charles at this home in West Little River.
The first victim reported that Charles was wearing an ankle monitor as he led him into his bedroom. Charles allegedly pulled out a gun on the victim and demanded that the victim hand over his cell phone and get money from an ATM.
“In fear for his life, and in an attempt to get out of the residence, [the victim] told Charles that he would drive him to a bank and withdraw money for him,” the official complaint stated.
The victim drove his 2021 red Honda with Charles in the passenger seat to a nearby Wells Fargo, where he withdrew $380, and then to a Bank of America where the victim pulled out $760. Charles then demanded to drive and forced the victim into the passenger seat until they reached an unspecified highway exit. Charles made the victim exit the car as he drove away in the Honda.
The first victim contacted the police from a gas station to report the crime. Investigators said that Charles—who was on probation from Miami-Dade County Corrections Boot Camp program—took the ankle monitor off after the robbery took place.
The second Grindr robbery took place on November 2nd, 2022. Prosecutors claim that Charles saw the victim pull up in a 2022 Toyota and went outside to meet him. Charles allegedly entered the back seat of the car and immediately pulled out a gun, pointing at the victim.
“Charles appeared to notice police cars that were nearby and ordered [him] to drive,” the complaint states.
Charles used a phone translation app to tell the victim where to drive, as he did not speak fluent English. The two went to the victim’s apartment garage, where Charles allegedly forced the victim to lie down in the backseat and pistol-whipped him.
Using the translation app again, Charles told the victim to log into his bank accounts to transfer money to him. The victim was unable to gain access to his bank account, but Charles instead started going through the victim’s photos. When Charles saw images of the victim with other men, he allegedly told the victim he was “going to kill all of you” and then proceeded to hit the victim again with the gun.
Charles then drove to a Bank of America to try and pull money from the victim’s account. As Charles drove around in the victim’s vehicle, he would hit the victim with the firearm whenever the victim would try to raise his head.
Once Charles arrived at the bank, he forced the victim to withdraw money but was unsuccessful. Charles then stepped out of the vehicle with a ski mask to withdraw the money himself but was unsuccessful too. He then noticed the victim had an Apple card with a balance, so Charles took the victim to three separate Walgreens so Charles could purchase $1,000 worth of gift cards, a Mountain Dew, and an Aquafina water.
Charles threatened to kill the victim if he attempted to leave the vehicle. However, when they reached the third Walgreens Charles took the keys but left the car on. The victim realized this, jumped into the driver’s seat and drove off.
After the police were contacted, surveillance videos and fingerprints traced them back to Charles for the crime. Charles faces 17 charges, including carjacking, kidnapping, and bank robbery.
Kidnapping in Florida
Despite its name, kidnapping does not have to involve children. Codified under Florida Statute section 787.01, kidnapping is defined as when a person forcibly, secretly, or by threat confines, abducts, or imprisons another person by holding them against their will and without lawful authority, with the intent to either:
- Hold the victim for ransom, reward, as a shield, or as a hostage.
- Commit or facilitate the commission of any felony.
- Inflict bodily harm upon the victim or another person.
- Intent to terrorize the victim or another person.
- Interfere with the performance of any government or political function.
Any person who violates the above law commits kidnapping, which is a first-degree felony in Florida. A first-degree felony has penalties of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years of imprisonment.
Robbery Charges in Florida
Florida Statute section 812.13 defines a robbery as the taking of property or money from another person which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with the intent to either temporarily or permanently deprive the other person of their property.
A robbery that does not include a firearm or weapon can result in getting charged with a second-degree felony. A second-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 15 years in prison.
A robbery that includes a weapon or firearm can result in a first-degree felony. A first-degree felony in Florida has a penalty of up to a $10,000 fine and up to 30 years of imprisonment.
The accused in the above story is currently facing federal charges of Carjacking and Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Crime of Violence. We will now explain these offenses and the possible penalties.
Brandishing a Firearm in Furtherance of a Violent Crime
When a firearm is used in a criminal offense, it can often lead to more severe consequences. Codified under 18 U.S. Code Section 924(C), federal law states that any person that during, or in relation to, either (1) any crime of violence or (2) drug trafficking crime, uses or possesses a firearm can, in addition to the punishment for the committed crime. also:
- Be sentenced to no less than five years of imprisonment
- If the firearm was brandished (waved or shown off in a threatening way), be sentenced to no less than seven years of imprisonment
- And if the firearm was discharged, no less than 10 years of imprisonment
A conviction for violating Section 924(C) means that there will be a required sentence of incarceration consecutive to any other sentence that was imposed from the other offense. Consequently, if a person was accused of more than one violation of Section 924(C), the sentences for each count must run consecutively.
If the defendant was convicted of a state court sentence, then the violation of Section 924(C) must be served consecutively with the state sentence. In addition, a person may be sentenced under Section 924(C) if they have aided or abetted another person using a firearm in the commission of a crime.
Carjacking – State vs Federal Charges
Florida’s Statute on carjacking is codified under section 812.133 and is defined as the taking of a motor vehicle which may be the subject of larceny from the person or custody of another, with the intent to temporarily or permanently deprive the owner of their vehicle. During the commission or attempt of a carjacking, the accused must have used intimidation, force, intimidation, or violence.
A person accused of carjacking without a weapon that occurred in no injuries may be sentenced to the mandatory minimum of 21 months in prison. Carjacking is a first-degree felony in the state of Florida, meaning the maximum penalties include up to a $10,000 fine, up to 30 years in prison, and 30 years of probation.
When a firearm or deadly weapon is used in the commission of a carjacking in Florida, the penalties are more severe. Florida’s 10/20/Life statute—when the judge is required to order the minimum sentence of 10 years, 20 years, or Life in prison for felonies involving deadly weapons—would then become relevant.
The 10/20/Life rule is as follows:
- Minimum 10 years sentence for possessing a firearm;
- Minimum 20 years sentence for discharging a firearm; and
- Minimum 25-life if the victim sustained bodily injury or died from the use of the firearm.
Codified under 18 U.S.C. 2119, a person can be charged with the federal crime of carjacking if they have taken a motor vehicle from another person by intimidation, force, or violence that was shipped, transported, or received from interstate or foreign commerce.
For carjacking to be considered a federal offense, the car must have been moved through interstate or foreign commerce. Meaning that any vehicle that was manufactured out of state and brought into the state falls under Federal Jurisdiction.
A person charged with a federal carjacking charge can be fined and face up to 15 years in federal prison. If someone is seriously injured in the commission of a federal carjacking, the accused person may be sentenced to up to 25 years in federal prison. If the carjacking results in the death of another person, then the accused person may face up to life in federal prison.
Finding a Defense Attorney in Tallahassee, Florida
If you or someone you love has been accused of a crime in the state of Florida, your first step should be reaching out to a skilled Florida criminal defense attorney in your area. Violent crimes such as kidnapping, carjacking, or robbery are often prosecuted harshly—this is especially true when the case involves the possession or use of a firearm.
Don Pumphrey and his team of attorneys have years of experience representing clients across the state of Florida for various criminal charges. Our team will work with you to build a strong defense for your case. To receive a free consultation from our team, contact Pumphrey Law Firm today at (850) 681-7777 or leave an online message on our website.
Written by Karissa Key