One of three documented gang members accused of committing an armed robbery at a Beverly Hills restaurant in which a customer was held at gunpoint, another was struck by gunfire and a $500,000 watch was taken pleaded not guilty Friday to federal charges.
Khai McGhee, 18, entered his plea to charges of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and using a firearm in a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Malik L. Powell, 20, waived his appearance at his arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty via the filing of a court document. Another codefendant, Marquise A. Gardon, 30, is scheduled to be arraigned Thursday.
A July 22 trial date has been set in Los Angeles federal court for all three defendants, but will likely be postponed.
On March 4, at about 2:10 p.m., officers were called to Il Pastaio, a celebrity hangout on North Canon Drive, following a report of a robbery with gunfire. Officers arrived to find a woman who had been wounded.
The victim, who was not the intended target, was taken to the hospital with non life-threatening injuries, according to a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department.
During the robbery, a restaurant patron was held at gunpoint while he was robbed of his Richard Mille wristwatch, worth about $500,000, according to prosecutors.
A struggle for the gun ensued, during which two rounds were discharged from the firearm, striking the woman in the leg. The handgun was dropped during the struggle and the robbers fled the scene with the victim’s watch, federal prosecutors stated.
Based on a review of video surveillance footage and witness statements, five individuals are believed to have been involved in the robbery crew, an affidavit states.
Law enforcement officials identified Powell and McGhee as two of the three robbers, and Gardon has been identified as a driver of the crew’s getaway car, according to the affidavit.
Powell’s car — a black BMW — allegedly was used to bring the crew to and from the robbery, and his cellphone allegedly was present near Il Pastaio at the time of the robbery. Powell’s social media accounts allegedly contained images of various guns and high-value wristwatches.
McGhee’s DNA was found on the robbery victim’s clothing following the struggle for the gun, the affidavit alleges. Surveillance footage allegedly shows Gardon getting out of the rear passenger seat and into the driver’s seat of the getaway car just before the robbery, and his cellphone allegedly was present near the restaurant at the time of the robbery.
Officials also said surveillance footage shows the men scouting the area prior to the robbery.