South Carolina U.S. Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced Friday that Ron Luclaire Houser, 42, of Mathews, N.C., pleaded guilty in federal court to seven counts of Hobbs Act robbery and two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence.
According to press release, evidence presented to the court showed that Houser committed multiple armed robberies from November 2016 through January 2018 throughout North and South Carolina. In all, Houser robbed six Dollar General stores and a gas station. The robberies occurred in Fort Mill, Lancaster, and Lugoff in South Carolina; and Monroe and Ansonville in North Carolina. In each robbery, Houser threatened employees at gunpoint.
Houser faces of maximum penalty of life in federal prison. Senior U.S. District Judge Cameron M. Currie accepted the guilty plea and will sentence him after receiving and reviewing a presentencing report prepared by the U.S. Probation Office.
The charges against Houser were the result of an extensive and coordinated investigation between the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO), Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office, and Lancaster County Sheriff’s Office in South Carolina; and the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Stanly County Sheriff’s Office, Oakboro Police Department, Thomasville Police Department, and Stallings Police Department in North Carolina.
In late February 2018, investigators from Kershaw and Lancaster counties traveled to North Carolina to assist Stallings police officers in arresting Houser. At the time, county investigators wanted Houser in connection with a robbery at the Dollar General on Roseborough Road in Lugoff that took place in December 2016, and a robbery of the Dollar General on Jefferson Davis Highway in east Camden in October 2017. In both cases, Houser allegedly robbed the stores of money at gunpoint. Three months later, he reportedly returned to the Dollar General in Lugoff and robbed it again at gunpoint.
Lydon’s press release did not indicate specifically for which robbery at the Dollar General in Lugoff that Houser pleaded guilty to, nor the disposition of the case against him for the robbery in east Camden.
After obtaining a photograph of Houser from North Carolina authorities, the KCSO asked the S.C. State Law Enforcement Division to prepare a photo lineup for a clerk present at the second Lugoff robbery, who identified him as the suspect. The photograph came about after a Locust, N.C., police officer, who was familiar with Houser’s car, spotted it at a Dollar General there, followed it and got the tag number.
Houser’s previous criminal history included numerous armed robberies for which he had served 19 years in prison.
The case was prosecuted as part of the joint federal, state, and local Project CeaseFire initiative, which aggressively prosecutes firearm cases. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), the centerpiece of the Department of Justice’s violent crime reduction efforts. PSN is an evidence-based program proven to be effective at reducing violent crime. Through PSN, a broad spectrum of stakeholders work together to identify the most pressing violent crime problems in the community and develop comprehensive solutions to address them. As part of this strategy, PSN focuses enforcement efforts on the most violent offenders and partners with locally based prevention and reentry programs for lasting reductions in crime. Assistant United States Attorney Will Lewis of the Columbia office is prosecuting the case.