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Flint man sentenced to 17 years in prison for trying to steal 200 pounds of marijuana

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A federal judge sentenced Justin Cooper to 17 years in prison for trying to steal 200 pounds of marijuana from a Sanilac County residence.

SANILAC COUNTY, Mich. (WJRT) - A Flint man has been sentenced to 17 years in prison for trying to steal over 200 pounds of marijuana from a Sanilac County home.

Federal prosecutors say 30-year-old Justin Cooper admitted to his role in a 2017 armed robbery of a residence, which ended with a shootout that left a resident injured and two suspects dead.

Cooper pleaded guilty in August 2021 to federal charges of conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana and aiding and abetting the discharge of a firearm.

Prosecutors say Cooper and several other suspects visited the residence multiple times and tried to break into a building, where the marijuana was stored. They were unsuccessful and hatched the armed robbery plan in November 2017.

Investigators say the group met at a gas station on Dort Highway in Flint before traveling to the Sanilac County residence. Some of them were armed with guns and they brought yard waste bags to carry the marijuana.

Police say the group kicked in the front door to the residence and rushed inside, where they were met by a resident armed with the handgun. The resident and the suspects exchanged gunfire in the house.

Two suspects in the break-in died from gunshot wounds like the resident suffered a non-life-threatening gunshot wound to his leg. Cooper and the rest of the suspect fled the scene after the shootout.

Police later arrested Cooper and at least two other men accused of taking part in the robbery scheme.

A federal judge sentenced Cooper to 17 years in a federal penitentiary followed by four years of supervised release for his role in planning and carrying out the attempted robbery.

"This deadly attempted robbery left one resident injured and two of the intruders dead, and our office is pleased that this sentence reflects our commitment to combat violent crime," said U.S. Attorney Dawn Ison.

Paul Drinkwine and John Williams of Flint both pleaded guilty to charges related to the Sanilac County robbery scheme. They are scheduled for sentencing in February in a federal courtroom.