3 indicted in string of Lowcountry robberies

Pictured above, from left to right, are Winard Eady, Christopher Simmons and Raynard Eady. (Provided)

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) -- A federal indictment against three men charged in a series of armed robberies in the Lowcountry between 2009 and 2011 was announced Tuesday.

According to United States Attorney Bill Nettles, the robberies focused on Asian restaurants, check cashing businesses, and loan businesses, mostly occurring in or near Charleston County, but ranging as far as Walterboro, Holly Hill and Georgetown. The robberies happened between the dates of July 2009 and March 2011.

Indicted are Raynard Montel Eady, age 29, of North Charleston; Christopher Donnell Simmons, age 33, of Wadmalaw; and Winard Montez Eady, age 29, of North Charleston. The indictment alleges that the three conspired to commit robbery affecting interstate commerce, in violation of 18 U.S.C. 1951.

All three are also charged with using handguns in furtherance of the robberies, contrary to 18 U.S.C. 924(c). The conspiracy carries a maximum sentence of 20 years imprisonment. The firearm counts carry a mandatory five years imprisonment for a first offense, and any subsequent offense carries a mandatory, consecutive, 25 years imprisonment.

Raynard Eady and Christopher Simmons were arrested as a part of a multi-agency investigation in February 2011 and charged with state offenses, including armed robbery, that are included as part of the federal indictment unsealed today. Both have remained in custody since that arrest. Winard Eady was arrested on May 18, 2012.

All three were arraigned in federal court May 22, 2012, when the indictments against them were unsealed. Simmons was ordered detained after waiving a bond hearing. W. Eady and R. Eady will have hearings on their bond later this week.

The indictments are the result of a joint investigation involving the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division , Charleston Police Department, North Charleston Police Department, Berkeley County Sheriff's Office, Moncks Corner Police Department, Georgetown Police Department, Goose Creek Police Department, Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, Summerville Police Department, Folly Beach Department of Public Safety, Charleston County Sheriff's Office, Walterboro Department of Public Safety, Andrews Police Department, Holly Hill Police Department, Beaufort County Sheriff's Office, and Mount Pleasant Police Department.

Assistant United States Attorney Nathan Williams of the Charleston office is prosecuting the case.

The United States Attorney stated that all charges in the indictments are merely accusations and that all defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty.