Stolen vehicle from Port Arthur, crime spree leads to 15 years in prison

Published 12:36 am Thursday, January 6, 2022

A string of early-2021 convenience store robbery violence that included a stolen vehicle out of Port Arthur concluded somewhat this week with a federal prison sentence of 15 years.

U.S. District Judge Marcia Crone sentenced 21-year-old Moses Ray Rhine Jr. on Tuesday following the Beaumont man’s guilty plea Aug. 11, 2021.

U.S. Attorney Brit Featherston said Rhine’s plea falls under the Hobbs Act for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence.

According to court documents, from Jan. 11, 2021, through Jan. 21, 2021, Rhine and others conspired to commit armed robberies of at least five convenience stores in Southeast Texas.

Featherston said each store was equipped with surveillance cameras that recorded the robberies, adding local and federal agents interviewed Rhine, who confessed to his role in the robberies.

Background

A pair of navy blue sweatpants, among other identifiers, helped lead law enforcement to a suspect.

The man, Rhine, was indicted by a Jefferson County grand jury in February on four counts of aggravated robbery, including one where he and two other men reportedly used a vehicle stolen from Port Arthur.

The crime spree for which Moses was indicted began with the January 2021 aggravated robbery of the Express Mart No. 4 at 11755 TX 105 in Beaumont.

According to the probable cause affidavit, at 9:43 p.m., one person acted as the door watch while two individuals entered the store. One, later identified as Rhine, was wearing a black hoodie with a large Lisa Simpson picture on the back and a white mask covering his face. He was holding a semi-automatic handgun with an extended magazine.

A gunman demanded cash. The individuals stole approximately $281.88 and fled the scene with the man at the door following them.

On Jan. 18, three people entered Cowboy Travel Plaza in Hamshire at approximately 11:31 p.m. The gunman was wearing what law enforcement said was the same navy blue sweat pants, black hoodie turned inside out and dark colored slide-on sandals.

The gunman, along with two other people, demanded cash. The three individuals then fled the scene after obtaining approximately $2,059.

While reviewing the video, a white Honda Pilot SUV was seen driving through the parking lot minutes before the robbery. A sheriff’s office detective-investigator conferred with Beaumont Criminal Investigations Division and when shown still video images, the detective identified the gunman due to previous interactions with him, the document read.

On Jan. 19, a convenience store in Chambers County was robbed and JSCO obtained video from their robberies. It was noted the same tall male wearing navy blue pants was the gunman, along with two other people.

A white Honda Pilot SUV was seen in the video footage and when registration was run, it returned to a stolen vehicle out of Port Arthur.

On Jan. 21, BPD officers located a suspect on Elgie Street, which is the suspect’s last known address. The vehicle left the residence and offices were able to stop it after a brief pursuit.

When the individuals were removed from the vehicle, it was observed one of them — a juvenile, was wearing clothing that matched clothing worn by one of the robbery suspects from Chambers County.

The juvenile was later interviewed and made a statement about his involvement in the Chambers County robberies and when shown photos of the gunman from the Express Mart and Cowboy Travel Plaza robberies, was able to identify the clothing and individual as Moses Ray Rhine Jr.

The juvenile provided other details to the crimes to law enforcement, the document read.

A search warrant was obtained and conducted at the Elgin Street home, where navy blue sweat pants similar to the pants worn by the gunman in both robberies was located, as well as tobacco products matching the same type stolen from Cowboy Travel Plaza.