‘Discount Bitcoin Bandit’ Convicted in String of L.A. Robberies
An East Hollywood woman known as one of two “Discount Bitcoin Bandits” – who robbed five people under the pretense of selling them digital cryptocurrency as it ballooned in value in late 2017 and early 2018 – was convicted of a robbery charge Thursday, authorities said.
Precious Lanay Fitzgerald, 29, pleaded no contest to a single count of second-degree robbery under a negotiated plea arrangement, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. Fitzgerald also admitted the sentence-enhancing allegations that a handgun was used during the crime and that she had a prior felony conviction for assault with a deadly weapon.
She’s expected to be sentenced to 10 years in state prison when she returns to Los Angeles County Superior Court for sentencing on Nov. 22, district attorney’s office spokesman Paul Eakins said in a written statement. She is also expected to be ordered to pay more than $85,000 in restitution.
Co-defendant Lawillie Joshua Hill, 23, also of East Hollywood pleaded no contest in April to a count of second-degree robbery, Eakins said. He admitted the allegation that he used a handgun during the crime. He’s expected to receive a four-year prison term and be ordered to pay nearly $30,000 in restitution at his sentencing, scheduled for Dec. 17.
“From October 2017 through February 2018, Fitzgerald stole money from five people by using online notices and communications advertising the sale of discount bitcoins, according to court testimony,” Eakins said. “She met the victims in person and forcefully took the cash they had brought to purchase the cryptocurrency.”
Hall helped Fitzgerald in two of the robberies, officials added.
Numerous charges were dropped under a plea agreement.
Fitzgerald had earlier been charged with four counts of robbery, three counts of child abuse and two counts of grand theft, prosecutors said at the time. Officials said an infant accompanied Fitzgerald during some of the crimes.
If she had been convicted as charged at trial, Fitzgerald could have faced more than 30 years in prison. Hall, who was initially charged with two counts of robbery, could have faced up to 19 years and four months in state prison.