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Yard House employee, 2 others accused of robbing restaurant manager on Christmas Eve

About $22,000 stolen from Yard House, authorities say

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SUNRISE, Fla. – A Yard House employee and two other men were arrested Tuesday morning in connection with the Christmas Eve 2018 robbery of the Yard House at Sawgrass Mills, the FBI announced.

Zyheem Ian Smith, 20, of Orlando, Gedeon Joseph, 21, of Clermont, and Watverly Mortimer, 22, of West Park, are in federal custody and charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery.

"I want to commend the investigative efforts of Sunrise Police Department that lead to this successful arrest operation," said Scott A. Rottman, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, FBI Miami. "These officers deserve our thanks and respect for the dangerous work they do to keep our communities safe."

According to a criminal complaint, Mortimer allowed the two men into the restaurant through a back door the morning of Dec. 24, 2018, before the restaurant was opened.

Authorities said Smith and Joseph went upstairs to the manager's office and confronted him just outside the office.

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According to the complaint, Smith pointed a Glock 19X handgun at the manager and snatched his cellphone from his hand.

Authorities said the robbers then ordered the manager to open a safe and place the money into a plastic bag.

The robbers warned the manager they would shoot him in the leg if he didn’t comply, authorities said.
About $22,000 was stolen from Yard House.

According to the complaint, Mortimer was interviewed by detectives at the scene and claimed he didn't know the robbers.

Authorities found the manager's cellphone on the ground behind the restaurant, which had Smith's fingerprints on it, the complaint stated.

Authorities said Smith's cellphone records showed that he had called Mortimer's cellphone three times just before the robbery and the men are friends on social media and even had a photo of themselves together that was posted Jan. 10.

Detectives said Joseph's photos matched the physical appearance of one of the robbers, and he is seen in photos wearing the same distinct black and white Nike shoes that were seen in the Yard House surveillance footage.

The Sunrise Police Department, the South Florida Violent Crime Task Force and the FBI continue their investigation into the robbery.  


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