Public Safety

Cedar Rapids man sentenced to 12 years for armed carjacking, cell store robbery

Cedric Wright (left) and Gage Rupp (right)
Cedric Wright (left) and Gage Rupp (right)

CEDAR RAPIDS — A Cedar Rapids man who committed an armed carjacking of an 18-year-old woman near Kirkwood Community College in 2017 and then a day later robbed a cellphone store using a stolen getaway car was sentenced this week to 12 years in federal prison.

Gage Rupp, 25, previously pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to one count of interference and attempted interference with commerce by threats and violence — Hobbs Act robbery, one count of conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery and one count of using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to, and in furtherance of, Hobbs Act robbery.

Evidence from a trial for one of Rupp’s co-defendants, Cedric Wright, showed that on Oct. 23, 2017, Derrick Ford agreed to give Wright and Gage Rupp a ride in his minivan from southeast Cedar Rapids to an apartment complex on the west side of Cedar Rapids, where Wright claimed the group could transfer into his sister’s car. The group then drove to a parking lot adjacent to the strip mall where a Sprint store was located. The three went into the store after all customers had left, according to court documents.

Ford was told to drive to the side of the store and park, as Wright and Rupp got out of the car and put on gloves and clothing to partially cover their faces, according to court documents. Wright and Rupp demanded the lone clerk let them go where the store inventory was kept. The clerk complied and testified at trial he did so because they entered the store aggressively and he feared for his life.

The robbers returned to the car with more than $1,000 in cash and about $40,000 in cellphones and other electronic devices.

The group drove back to the west-side apartment complex, and Wright told them they needed to get into Ford’s minivan because they were in a stolen car.

Police were alerted to the robbery because one of the stolen devices was a tracker, according to evidence. Officers responded to the tracking device within a few minutes and arrested the three men.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Evidence at sentencing showed Rupp had a long history of criminal activity, including convictions for drug possession, attempted burglary, twice assaulting a pregnant girlfriend, and interference with official acts.

Rupp also was an active marijuana dealer in fall 2017, and was involved in a fraudulent scheme to pay outstanding bills of his friends, in exchange for being paid half the cost of the bill, prosecutors said.

During sentencing, U.S. District Chief Judge Leonard Strand said Rupp has been a “menace and drain on society.” He said Rupp had many chances in the past to change his conduct, in rejecting Rupp’s plea for a “second chance,” which would more like a “fifth chance,” the judge noted.

Rupp was ordered to serve five years of supervised release following his prison time.

• Comments: (319) 398-8318; trish.mehaffey@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.