A judge on Tuesday dismissed 12 of 17 charges against an Omaha man accused of using a dating application to set up a string of robberies.
Janonta Liggins, 18, was ordered to stand trial in Douglas County District Court on three counts of robbery, one counts of use of a gun to commit a felony and one count of possession of a stolen firearm.
Douglas County Judge Marcena Hendrix dismissed four robbery charges, seven charges of use of a gun to commit a felony and one count of attempted robbery.
Despite acknowledging “a commonality in the crimes” and a “statement from a co-conspirator,” Hendrix said she didn’t find enough evidence for Liggins to stand trial on all counts. She also rejected a defense request for a reduction in Liggins’ bail, which was set at 10 percent of $100,000.
Liggins’ alleged co-conspirator, Jordan L. Kellogg, 20, of Omaha, waived his preliminary hearing Tuesday and will stand trial on eight counts of robbery. He is being held on 10 percent of $75,000 bail.
Omaha police arrested Kellogg and Liggins in connection with the robberies of eight men in Omaha between Sept. 19 and Oct. 10. Other men also may have been robbed, detective William Hardisty testified, but some of them were “too embarrassed” to file robbery reports.
In each case, the men had their cellphones and wallets taken at gunpoint late at night in north Omaha when they thought they were going to meet up with a woman they had messaged on a dating application. In one incident, robbers also stole marijuana that the men had brought with them.
During an interview at police headquarters, Kellogg told Hardisty that the idea to use a dating app came from Liggins.
“Mr. Kellogg said Mr. Liggins knew how to get desperate guys to come out and then take advantage of them,” Hardisty said. “They both would chat (online) with the victims, arrange the meet and try to get them to bring (marijuana) with them.”
Police were able to trace the sale of five of the stolen cellphones to Kellogg, Hardisty said. Kellogg, accompanied each time by Liggins, sold the phones at a kiosk in the Walmart at 6304 N. 99th St.
One of the victims’ credit cards was alleged to have been used by Kellogg to make purchases from Nike.com, Hardisty said. He said police also have surveillance video of Liggins attempting to use the same credit card to get money from an ATM at a store near 30th Street and Martin Avenue.
Officers serving a search warrant near 24th and Ida Streets located Kellogg and Liggins and two handguns that matched the description of the guns provided by the robbery victims. The guns were a black .40-caliber Glock, found in Liggins’ possession, and a two-tone Smith & Wesson revolver, said to be used by Kellogg.
All but one of the robbery victims used the dating application Plenty of Fish. None of the men could positively identify Kellogg or Liggins.
“The victims said they were focused on the firearms,” Hardisty said. “They were in fear and didn’t focus on the faces.”