BOSTON – A Dracut man pleaded guilty today in federal court in Boston in connection with the armed robbery of three convenience stores in Lowell and Tewksbury on Dec. 24, 2020.
Michael Vangpa, 33, pleaded guilty to one count of interfering with commerce by robbery and one count of using a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. U.S. District Court Judge Leo T. Sorokin scheduled sentencing for Oct. 14, 2022. Vangpa was charged by criminal complaint in August 2021 and subsequently indicted by a federal grand jury in October 2021.
“Mr. Vangpa’s acts of violence spread panic across the communities he violated and terrorized by committing multiple armed robberies. Residents should be able to visit their local businesses without fear,” said United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins. “My office is committed to ensuring the safety of this Commonwealth. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to hold violent individuals accountable and more so when they use firearms during their crimes.”
“Convicted felon Michael Vangpa’s crime spree on Christmas Eve during which he committed three commercial armed robberies within an hour, brandishing a handgun, put the store clerks in fear for their lives, and the public in danger,” said Joseph R. Bonavolonta, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Boston Division. “Removing violent criminals like him from our communities is the top priority of FBI Boston’s Violent Crimes Task Force.”
“Armed robberies at neighborhood stores make citizens fearful to carry out their daily business in our community,” said James M. Ferguson, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Boston Field Division. “ATF and our law enforcement partners are committed to pursuing violent offenders to ensure that those who commit violent crimes will be held accountable for their actions.”
On Dec. 24, 2020, Vangpa robbed three nearby convenience stores—two in Lowell and one in Tewksbury—within an hour. In each of the robberies, Vangpa brandished a firearm and demanded money from the store clerks. During one of the robberies, Vangpa discharged the firearm into cardboard boxes under the register while demanding money. In the other robberies, he used the firearm to strike the cashier in the head and make a store customer get on the ground.
The charge of interference with commerce by robbery provides for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, up to three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000. The charge of discharging a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence provides for a mandatory sentence of 10 years in prison to be served consecutively to any other sentence imposed and up to life in prison. Sentences are imposed by a federal district court judge based upon the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and statutes which govern the determination of a sentence in a criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Rollins, FBI SAC Bonavolonta, ATF SAC Ferguson and Colonel Christopher Mason, Superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police made the announcement. The Lowell, Tewksbury, Dracut and Nashua (N.H.) Police Departments provided valuable assistance. Assistant U.S. Attorney Charles Dell’Anno of Rollins’ Major Crimes Unit is prosecuting the case.