Cedar Rapids Man Sentenced to Five Years in Federal Prison for Participation in Violent Marijuana Robbery

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FILE PHOTO: Signage is seen at the United States Department of Justice headquarters in Washington, D.C.

A man who participated in an armed robbery during a drug robbery in which a marijuana dealer was shot was sentenced June 28, 2022, to five years in federal prison.

Cortez Riggins, age 20, from Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the prison term after a January 4, 2022 guilty plea to one count of robbery affecting interstate commerce.

Evidence at a prior hearing and information at sentencing showed that in October 2020, Riggins arranged to buy marijuana from another individual, the eventual victim.  Riggins then drove three coconspirators to the purported deal.  One of Riggins’s coconspirators entered the victim’s apartment to conduct the drug deal, but instead produced a firearm and demanded the drugs.  A shot was fired and Riggins and the other coconspirators kicked in the apartment door and entered.  The victim was shot at least five times in the upper torso by Riggins’s coconspirators.  While the victim was laying on the floor, bleeding and unconscious, Riggins stole a PlayStation video game system, kicked the victim in the head, and took a designer belt off the victim’s body.  Despite sustaining severe injuries from the attack, the victim survived.

Riggins was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge C.J. Williams.  At the sentencing, the judge commented that it was “remarkable” that the victim survived the attack.  The judge also noted that Riggins’s actions in kicking the unconscious, bleeding, and likely dying victim were “callous, heartless, thoughtless, [and] cruel.”  Riggins was sentenced to 60 months’ imprisonment.  He must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term.  There is no parole in the federal system.

This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN).  PSN is the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts.  PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime.

Riggins is being held in the United States Marshal’s custody until he can be transported to a federal prison.

The case was investigated by the Cedar Rapids Police Department and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Lisa Williams. 

Court file information at https://ecf.iand.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/login.pl

The case file number is 21-CR-00058‑CJW.

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