CHARLOTTE, N.C. – U.S. Attorney Dena J. King announced today that Vincent Bernard Leonard, 54, of Charlotte, was sentenced to 188 months in prison and three years of supervised release on charges of attempted armed robbery and illegal firearm possession.
Robert R. Wells, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Charlotte Division, and Chief Johnny Jennings with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department, join U.S. Attorney King in making today’s announcement.
According to court documents and today’s sentencing hearing, on November 25, 2020, at approximately 6:08 p.m., Leonard walked into the Little Caesars restaurant located at 5009 Beatties Ford Road in Charlotte. Wearing a face covering, Leonard approached the restaurant’s 17-year-old cashier and asked about the price of a pizza. He then pulled out a semi-automatic firearm and pointed it at the cashier. Leonard ordered the victim to “open the register up” and to give him all the money. Court documents show that the cashier told Leonard she could not open the register and was able to run to the back of the store where she alerted her manager of the attempted robbery. Leonard fled the scene.
On the same day, approximately an hour later, Leonard attempted to rob a Wendy’s restaurant located at 6500 Albemarle Road, in Charlotte. According to court records, Leonard approached the drive-through window of the restaurant on foot, where a 16-year-old cashier was working, and asked for change. Leonard then pulled out a gun, pointed it at the cashier and asked the victim “Do you see this?” The victim was able to get away and run to another part of the store while Leonard fled the scene.
Ten minutes after the attempted robberies, CMPD officers were able to locate Leonard at a gas station in Charlotte. When law enforcement arrived, they found Leonard seated inside a car and arrested him at the scene. Law enforcement also found Leonard’s firearm inside a bookbag that was near his feet. Over the course of the investigation, law enforcement determined that the firearm Leonard used during the attempted robberies had been reported stolen earlier the same year in Lincoln County. At the time of the attempted robberies, Leonard was on post-release supervision for a state conviction where he had served a lengthy prison sentence.
On November 22, 2021, Leonard pleaded guilty to two counts of attempted Hobbs Act robbery and one count of possession of a firearm by a felon. At the time of the attempted robberies, Leonard was a convicted felon and was prohibited from possessing a firearm. Leonard has a lengthy criminal history and has been previously convicted of burglary, kidnapping, and multiple counts of robbery, breaking and entering, and larceny. He has twice been sentenced as a habitual felon in North Carolina state court.
Leonard is currently in federal custody and will be transferred to custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons upon designation of a federal facility.
In making today’s announcement U.S. Attorney King thanked the FBI and CMPD for their investigation of this case.
Assistant United States Attorney David Kelly, of the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Charlotte, prosecuted the case.