20-year prison term for man who robbed people during Facebook Marketplace meet-ups

The Chicago man accused of robbing ten individuals while acting as a buyer or seller on Facebook Marketplace has been sentenced to 20 years in prison.

Tuwayne Bell, who was on probation for a previous robbery at the time of the alleged acts, pled guilty to a single count of armed robbery before Judge Alfredo Maldonado this week, court documents show. As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors dropped the remaining nine robbery counts, which included dozens of criminal charges.

Chicago police issued two public warnings about a pattern of ten robberies that happened between the 4400 block of West Washington and the first block of North Kilbourn in January and February of last year.

During Bell’s initial bail hearing in February, prosecutors stated that all of the victims had agreed to purchase or sell tech devices, mostly iPads and iPhones, to a certain Facebook account. When they arrived at the meeting place, Bell allegedly brandished a gun and demanded their phones and money. According to authorities, Bell would occasionally force victims to transfer money to a Zelle account.

When Chicago police officers looked into the Facebook account used to set up the meetings, they discovered it was tied to Bell’s mother’s phone number. Her phone number was on jail paperwork she filed while posting bond for her son following “several” offenses, according to a prosecutor during the bail hearing.

Based on that information, investigators included Bell’s photograph in photo lineups, and the victims identified him as the robber.

Bell, 21, has been on probation for another crime since September 2022. In that case, prosecutors charged him with robbing a guy of cigarettes and cash while concealing his hand in his pocket as if it were a pistol. Judge Maldonado ended his probation in an unsatisfactory manner this week.

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