A California man has pleaded guilty today to federal criminal charges for targeting and robbing gay men he met on the gay dating app Grindr.
Derrick Patterson, 23, of Compton, pleaded guilty to one count of Hobbs Act robbery — defined as taking another person’s property by actual or threatened force” — and one count of aggravated identity theft.
As part of the plea agreement, Patterson admitted to robbing five separate victims over a span of nine months, from June 2021 to March 2022. Patterson would target potential victims by using Grindr, arranging to meet them at their homes or in hotel rooms under the pretense of sexual encounters. Once inside, Patterson would ask to use victims’ phones.
During a July 2021 incident, one victim gave his phone to Patterson, who went to the victim’s kitchen, pulled out a kitchen knife, threatened the victim, and used the victim’s Venmo account to steal $3,950. He then used the victim’s online account to pay for two Hotels.com transaction, and used the phone to send text messages to the victim’s friends and family in Nevada asking for money, which Patterson intended to intercept, according to a Justice Department press release.
In another incident, in February 2022, Patterson demanded the man’s phone and chased the victim with a stun gun, demanding money. The victim gave him $120 in cash, and Patterson demanded he hand over jewelry.
After Patterson left the victim’s home, he asked the victim’s contacts for money. He also used the phone to access Apple Pay account and open a line of credit in the victim’s name with Goldman Sachs. He then went to a T-Mobile store in Los Angeles and used the Goldman Sachs credit line to purchase a pair of Apple Airpods for $273. Patterson also used the victim’s bank card to pay for a hotel room.
Patterson admitted that, during other robberies, he assaulted at least one victim while hurling a homophobic slur at him, and threatened to shoot another during an encounter in a hotel room.
Patterson will next appear in court before U.S. District Judge John Walter, of the Central District of California, on Sept. 19 for sentencing. He could potentially face a maximum penalty of up to 22 years in federal prison for the crimes to which he admitted as part of the plea deal.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation says the investigation into Patterson remains ongoing. Law enforcement officials are encouraging other potential victims to come forward. Those who believe they may have been victimized by Patterson are encouraged to call the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, 24 hours a day, at (310) 477-6565.
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