With jury selection underway, a Marrero man cut short his trial Tuesday (March 6) and pleaded guilty as charged to robbing a man he met through a social media dating application.
Randell Mason, 27, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for robbing a 21-year-old New Orleans man of his car just before 2 a.m., on March 17, 2016. He also pleaded guilty to being a convicted felon in possession of a firearm, for which he received a 15-year sentence.
Using the name “Aaron,” Mason met the victim days prior to the crime through the Badoo dating app, according to the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office. They exchanged cell phone numbers and communicated through text messages, eventually agreeing to meet in the 5000 block of Mount Rushmore Drive, according to the Sheriff’s Office incident report.
There, Mason got into the victim’s 2013 Chrysler 200C. They traveled to the 5000 block of Grenoble Court, in Marrero, where the victim believed Mason’s aunt lived. As they walked through an alley, Mason brandished a semiautomatic pistol and ordered the victim to give up the car keys. The victim complied, and Mason drove away.
Within hours, detectives identified Mason as the suspect through his photograph on the Badoo app. The U.S. Marshals Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force located and arrested Mason on April 9, 2016, in an apartment in the 5000 block of Mount Rushmore Drive.
When confronted with the Badoo account, Mason asserted someone created the fraudulent site by stealing his photograph from social media. He eventually said he planned to meet the victim for a sexual encounter but found the victim to be unattractive and began yelling at him.
The victim, Mason asserted, felt intimidated and simply gave him the keys to his car. He said drove home in the victim’s car and then he gave it to “a crack head” on Mount Rushmore. He also said the cell phone with which he communicated with the victim belonged to the same “crack head.” He also denied having a firearm during the encounter.
Jury selection began Tuesday morning. With prospective jurors selected and the victim waiting to testify against him, Mason offered to plead guilty to the two charges. He also pleaded guilty to being a double offender because of a prior carjacking conviction.
Judge Conn Regan of the 24th Judicial District Court accepted the plea and ran Mason’s sentences concurrently, for a total of 15 years..
Assistant District Attorneys Lynn Schiffman and Zachary Popovich prosecuted the case.