Three brothers allegedly orchestrated seven armed robberies in St. Paul this summer that duped would-be buyers responding to fake Craigslist ads for cellphones.
No one was hurt in the robberies that took place between June 5 and July 1, but 11 victims were robbed at gunpoint of cash, cellphones and keys.
Six suspects charged in Ramsey County District Court in connection with the robberies are:
• Mark A. Smith, 27, of St. Paul, three counts of first-degree aggravated robbery.
• Jonathan D. Smith, 23, residence unknown, four counts of first-degree aggravated robbery.
• Charles Noel-Deandre Edwards, 18, of Maplewood, four counts of first-degree aggravated robbery.
• William T. Chambers-Erby, 21, of Minneapolis, one count of first-degree aggravated robbery.
• Danielle Anna Mari Brandenburger, 23, of St. Paul, one count of first-degree aggravated robbery.
• An unnamed 17-year-old boy was charged in juvenile court. He told police he was involved in two robberies, according to charges filed against his adult co-defendants.
According to the complaints: Mark Smith, Jonathan Smith and Edwards are brothers. Mark Smith was in police custody on unrelated charges when he told authorities that his brothers were responsible for some of the robberies. Jonathan Smith told police that Mark Smith was the mastermind behind the robberies and set up the Craigslist ads. The ads advertised a number of different phones, including the iPhone.
The complaint said Edwards, Jonathan Smith and “other co-conspirators” robbed the victims at gunpoint. Different victims gave authorities different descriptions of the gunman in their cases. It’s unclear which suspects allegedly brandished a gun in the robberies.
Jonathan Smith implicated Chambers-Erby in a June 17 robbery and the juvenile in robberies on June 22 and July 1, the charges said.
Brandenburger is Mark Smith’s girlfriend and told authorities she drove the three brothers to several locations for the robberies, according to court documents. Her phone number was used in one of the ads, the charges allege.
According to charges: Prospective buyers responded to Craigslist ads and communicated with the suspects via text message. They were told to meet the suspects in the 1600 block of Cumberland Avenue, the 200 block of Wheelock Parkway, the Sun Ray Shopping Center, the 100 block of Larpenteur Avenue or at an apartment complex in the 100 block of Charles Avenue.
In three cases, one male suspect distracted the buyer at the buyer’s car and a second suspect brandished a gun and demanded money and belongings. In three incidents, victims were robbed similarly but while inside an apartment complex. In one case, three victims were robbed while meeting the suspects on foot outside. The gunman was masked on one occasion, the charges said.
The suspects robbed 11 people, some of whom were accompanying a friend trying to make the purchase, the complaints said. One robbery occurred in the building where Mark Smith and Brandenburger lived, the charges allege.