LAWRENCEVILLE -- Two high-profile Gwinnett jewelry store heists this year that netted more than $1 million in stolen goods and left one customer bashed with a hammer were ordered by a prison inmate with a history of robbing people himself, authorities told the Daily Post on Friday.
Repeated convict Deuntria Lamar Lyons, 30, was running a crew of four armed robbers from the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, Gwinnett police spokesman Cpl. Edwin Ritter said.
"(He) was running it from his prison cell," Ritter said.
Lyons and his four accomplices were named this week in a 16-count indictment charging them with armed robbery, aggravated battery, aggravated assault, weapons possession and theft by receiving stolen property.
Investigators didn't say how Lyons allegedly issued his orders. His prior convictions include a Cobb County robbery and burglaries, other robberies in Henry and Fulton counties and a Gwinnett theft case from 2006, Georgia Department of Corrections records show.
The indictment charges Lyons and four others -- Simone Simon, Terrence Talley, Nicholas Moss and Cedrick Salley -- with playing roles in two heists, described by police as follows:
On Feb. 9, two men entered Barron's Fine Jewelry at 1850 Scenic Highway in Snellville, stealing about $20,000 worth of jewelry at gunpoint. A third man acted as a lookout.
On March 22, four men robbed the Tara Fine Jewelry at 1829 Buford Highway in Buford while armed with handguns and hammers. One suspect reportedly bashed a customer on the head with a hammer, and the crooks made out with nearly $1 million in jewelry and watches, police said.
The bludgeoned victim made a full recovery, police said.
Ritter said Salley, Talley and Moss have been apprehended. Simon is the only at-large suspect, he said.
Anyone with information regarding his location is asked to call 770-513-5300.
Multiple agencies at local, state and federal levels have brought the case to indictment.
The Gwinnett police robbery unit has been assisted by the Gwinnett County Sheriff's Office, Snellville police, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. Fulton County authorities and the U.S. Marshals have assisted, police have said.