For several months, a gang of armed individuals in Florida pretended to be law enforcement officers, wearing official uniforms and masks as they broke into homes, wielded firearms, and at times, discharged them at frightened residents.
One of the men who had pretended to be a law enforcement officer for months with a gang of armed individuals has been found guilty of conspiracy.
Darius “Toot” Hudson was found guilty of conspiring to commit at least three robberies and of discharging a gun during a violent crime. Court records show that he was also convicted of Hobbs Act robbery and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 27 years, with the potential for life imprisonment.
The convicted impostor posing as a sheriff will be sentenced on April 24.
Hudson was found guilty by a jury of participating in robberies that occurred from December 2020 to April 2021 in several Florida counties, as well as in Arizona and Georgia. Federal prosecutors stated that Hudson conspired to commit or did commit armed robberies in Pasco, Polk, Lee, and Hillsborough counties in Florida.
Four others, along with Hudson, wore black gloves, clothes, and face masks, often with vests that read “Sheriff” on them. Jasmine Weber, a claims adjuster, was sentenced last month in Florida for her involvement. Investigators said she a*sisted Hudson and others in their impersonation of police officers.
Agents said she admitted to helping the suspects locate victims by using her LexisNexis account at work to find their addresses.
According to court records, she also a*sisted the men in buying sheriff’s equipment and gear, such as vests and patches.
Investigators reported that the men were driving a black Dodge Durango and a white Chevrolet Malibu, both equipped with “blue flashing lights.” The impostor police officers also carried handcuffs and would “arrest” their victims before a*saulting, threatening, pistol-whipping, and at times, shooting at them.
One FBI agent stated that Hudson and his co-conspirators invaded a home they believed was growing marijuana inside. The burglary occurred around midnight while three sleeping victims were inside.
“The suspects proceeded to forcefully move the victims to the living room and pistol whipped them. They demanded cash and began searching the residence. The suspects stole two Apple iPhones and an 18-karat gold chain link necklace,” the agent wrote. “The suspects eventually fled through the front door and gunshots were heard coming from the general area where the suspects had fled.”
Hudson and the other men then targeted a second house in Lakeland, which police were informed was linked to a drug dealer who also operated a gambling ring from the premises. During the invasion, police reported that a man was struck on the head and shot, but the a*sailants managed to escape.
Surveillance footage from the scene showed a man fleeing with a backpack that police recognized from elsewhere. They later identified the man as Hudson. Investigators said that he typically carried a white backpack during the robberies.
Through a sequence of authorized phone and search warrants, investigators were ultimately able to reveal Hudson’s involvement in the plot. Court documents suggest that authorities were able to determine how Hudson and his supposed partners conducted surveillance on victims’ homes before carrying out their actions.
Hudson and Weber are just two of what prosecutors say is likely a ring of at least six accomplices.