Baton Rouge Man Pleads Guilty in Federal Court to Interference with Commerce by Robbery and Federal Gun Charges

Published 2:12 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2022

United States Attorney Ronald C. Gathe, Jr. announced that Forrest J. Hardy, age 33, of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, pled guilty before U.S. Chief Judge Shelly D. Dick to interference with commerce by robbery, brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and possession of firearms by a convicted felon.  As a result of his plea, Hardy faces up to 20 years imprisonment for the robbery conviction, 10 years imprisonment for the possession of a firearm by a convicted felon conviction, and a mandatory minimum consecutive term of imprisonment of not less than seven years and up to life for the brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence conviction.

According to admissions made during his plea, on or about January 7, 2020, at approximately 6:41 p.m., Hardy, while wearing a mask, entered the Boost Mobile Store, located at 8180 Scenic Hwy, Baton Rouge, which is across the street from Baton Rouge Police Department’s Fourth Precinct police station, and pointed a firearm at an employee.  After Hardy demanded money kept in the cash registers, the employee complied with Hardy’s demands, who removed and pocketed the cash.  Hardy then fled from the store and ran to a 1999 Lexus SUV.

Following investigative leads, the following day, detectives identified the vehicle driven by Hardy and developed him as a suspect of this robbery.  Video cameras captured images of Hardy’s car enabling detectives to identify Hardy’s vehicle as a gold-colored Lexus, bearing distinct coloring on the right front quarter panel.

On January 8, 2020, at approximately 7:20 p.m., Hardy, while wearing a green jacket and a black mask over his face, entered a Metro PCS cellular phone store, located at 1966 North Foster Dr., Baton Rouge.  Hardy then pointed a loaded Glock, model 22, .40 caliber pistol, with an extended magazine and a weapon-mounted flashlight at an employee and demanded cash from the register.  He removed the cash from the register and pocked it.  While aiming his firearm at the employee, Hardy demanded the cash that the business kept in its safe in the storage room. Concerned for his safety, the victim led the robber to the storage room.  From his vantage point, the victim observed Hardy rummaging through the safe.  Following the robbery, Hardy fled the premises in same vehicle, the 1999 Lexus SUV, he used the night before.  Notably, the day before the robbery the safe contained an Apple iPhone 11 Pro Max and after the robbery the Apple iPhone Pro Max was no longer in the safe.

Later, on the evening of January 8, 2020, at approximately 8:25 p.m., law enforcement officers with the Baton Rouge Police Department stopped Hardy in the 1999 Lexus SUV, which bore the distinct coloring on one of its sides.  Law enforcement officers observed, in plain view, a black handgun with an extended magazine, and a black mask on the front passenger seat.  Police thereafter arrested Hardy.

A day or so later, during the execution of a search warrant on the 1999 Lexus SUV, law enforcement personnel found an assault style firearm, a .40 caliber Glock semiautomatic pistol with an extended magazine, stolen cash, a ski mask, the gloves used by Hardy during the robberies, and ammunition.

Previously, Hardy had been convicted of armed robbery in East Baton Rouge Parish in 2007 and convicted of second-degree battery and false imprisonment with a dangerous weapon in Lafayette Parish in 2019.

This matter was investigated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the Baton Rouge Police Department.   It was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Robert W. Piedrahita and Jeremy S. Johnson.

U.S. Attorney Gathe stated, “I would like to publicly thank our Assistant United States Attorneys and our partners, the Baton Rouge Police Department and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives for the time and effort to prepare this matter for trial.  Their efforts led to the government removing a violent offender and several guns off the street.”