Trader Joe’s heists: Huntington Park sentenced to 21 years in prison

A Huntington Park man was sentenced Monday to 21 years behind bars for carrying out a string of armed robberies or attempted armed robberies of Trader Joe's markets in Los Angeles and Orange counties -- and enlisted his son as the getaway driver in two of the heists. 

Gregory Johnson, 44, pleaded guilty in May to one federal count each of interference with commerce by robbery and brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Johnson admitted that during a three-month crime spree starting in August 2020, he committed armed robberies of Trader Joe's grocery stores in Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Glendale, Pasadena, Monrovia, San Dimas, Culver City, Manhattan Beach, Rancho Palos Verdes, Cerritos, Brea, Santa Ana, Agoura Hills, Tustin and Irvine.

The defendant admitted that during a four-month crime spree starting in August 2020, he robbed Trader Joe's stores in Eagle Rock, Sherman Oaks, Chatsworth, Pasadena, Culver City, Rancho Palos Verdes, Agoura Hills, Brea, Santa Ana, Tustin and Chino Hills, and attempted to rob locations in Simi Valley and Corona.

During many of the robberies, Johnson brandished a handgun. On two occasions, he robbed stores in Rancho Palos Verdes and Brea, and returned weeks later to rob them again.

Get your top stories delivered daily! Sign up for FOX 11’s Fast 5 newsletter. And, get breaking news alerts in the FOX 11 News app. Download for iOS or Android.

Johnson and his 21-year-old son, Gregory E. Johnson, were arrested following the Chino Hills robbery on Dec. 4, 2020, after a witness gave authorities a description of their getaway vehicle and license plate.

The younger Johnson pleaded guilty to driving the getaway car in the Chino Hills and Chatsworth robberies, and was sentenced last month in Los Angeles federal court to two years behind bars.

Tune in to FOX 11 Los Angeles for the latest Southern California news.