04/07/04 — Men indicted for restaurant heists

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Men indicted for restaurant heists

By Jack Stephens
Published in News on April 7, 2004 2:06 PM

Two men accused last year of robbing numerous businesses, including Chinese restaurants, in eastern North Carolina have been indicted on felony charges in Wayne County.

The men were indicted by the Wayne County Grand Jury on charges of robbing a Chinese restaurant owner and assaulting his wife in Goldsboro and holding up two businesses on U.S. 70 East.

Marcus Devon Bryant, 25, of Spring Lake and Dennis Earl Washington, 27, of Fayetteville were accused of barging into the apartment of a Chinese restaurant owner, Chang Wen Lin, and his wife in the 200 block of East Lockhaven Drive in Goldsboro, kidnapping them and then stealing $2,000 and other property.

As Lin returned home at about 10:15 p.m. Aug. 6 from the China Star restaurant on Wayne Memorial Drive, Goldsboro police said, the robbers followed him inside, held the couple at gunpoint, assaulted the woman, grabbed the cash, a telephone and a video cassette recorder and fled.

As a result of a police investigation, Bryant and Washington were indicted on charges of first-degree burglary, armed robbery, attempted armed robbery, first-degree rape and first-degree kidnapping in the robbery and assault.

Another man, Curtis Washington, 19, of Fayetteville, also has been sought in the crime.

An earlier robbery of a Chinese restaurant owner in Goldsboro remains unsolved. Zhong Xi Fang was robbed at about 11 p.m. July 24 in her home on Rose Street after she had collected the day's proceeds from the China One and China King restaurants.

With more than 15 similar robberies of Asians and minorities last summer, authorities from five other nearby cities and Johnston County met in Kinston to swap information on the crimes. Bryant and Washington were arrested a few days later and jailed in Fayetteville.

Bryant also was indicted on two charges of armed robbery of shops on U.S. 70 East. Wayne County sheriff's detectives charged him with robbing the Old Quaker House Gift Shop on July 29 and the Olde Country Store on Aug. 11. Bryant also was indicted on a charge of possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.

An employee reported that two men entered the Old Quaker House Gift Shop. One went behind the counter, brandished a handgun and demanded money as the other acted as a lookout, the deputy's report said. The gunman then took $50 from the woman's purse and ordered both employees to stay in a back room, and the robbers fled, the report said.

A clerk told deputies that two men entered the Olde Country Store, browsed for a few minutes and asked to see a picture. When the clerk searched for the picture, she said, she felt something hard in her back and then saw a handgun. The robber demanded money, grabbed $60 and drove off.

Curtis Washington also has been charged in the two store holdups.

Other indictments

The indictments against Bryant and Washington were among 60 handed up by the grand jury during its monthly meeting.

Twenty-three indictments were returned on such fraud charges as embezzlement, corporate malfeasance, false pretense, forgery, credit-card theft and fraud, and identity theft.

Sixteen people were indicted for such property crimes as breaking and entering, larceny and possession of stolen goods.

Three people were indicted on illegal drug charges and three on weapons violations. Two were indicted for child abuse and one each for sex, robbery and traffic charges.

Five people also were indicted as habitual felons. If they are convicted of a fourth, non-overlapping crime, they would be sentenced to significantly longer terms.

Several people were indicted of crimes in more than one category.