3 men sentenced to federal prison after Christmas Eve robbery at Sawgrass Mills

About $22,000 stolen last year at Yard House

By Amanda Batchelor - Senior Digital Editor

SUNRISE, Fla. - Three men were sentenced Wednesday to federal prison for robbing the Yard House at Sawgrass Mills last Christmas Eve.

Zyheem Ian Smith, of Orlando, Gedeon Joseph, of Clermont, and Watverly Mortimer, of West Park, had pleaded guilty to their roles in the robbery.

The men were charged with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act Robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime. 

According to a criminal complaint, Mortimer, who worked at the restaurant at the time, allowed the other 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.

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.

Smith was sentenced to 10 years in federal prison, while Joseph and Mortimer were each sentenced to eight years in prison. 
 

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