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Posted on: June 9, 2023

Commonwealth v. D. Clemmons & Z. Bessey

Two Men Sentenced for Burglarizing, Stealing Thousands in Cash from Norfolk Food Lion Stores

NORFOLK, Va. – Two men have been sentenced in Norfolk Circuit Court for committing burglaries at two city Food Lion grocery stores in late 2021. In addition to both men paying back the money they stole, 33-year-old Delton Lavon Clemmons was sentenced Friday to two active years in prison, and his co-defendant, 32-year-old Zachery Michael Bessey, was sentenced in April to more than two active years in prison.

After 1 a.m. on Nov. 4, 2021, the men burglarized the Food Lion located at 7525 Tidewater Drive. Mr. Bessey had worked for a Food Lion in North Carolina as a teenager, and he was familiar with the consistent layouts of Food Lion stores. Mr. Bessey used a reciprocating saw to cut a hole into the roof of the Tidewater Drive store and used a fire escape ladder to descend into the management office where the safe was kept. An experienced electrician, Mr. Bessey disabled the surveillance camera in the management office and covered the fire sprinkler head with a plastic bag. Mr. Bessey then used an electric angle grinder to cut a hole through the concrete and steel safe and stole more than $35,000 cash before using the ladder to exit the store.

A little over a month later, after 1 a.m. on Dec. 6, 2021, the defendants committed a nearly identical burglary at the 1859 E. Little Creek Road Food Lion, and the defendants stole more than $29,000 from that store’s safe. As Mr. Bessey committed these acts, Mr. Clemmons served as his lookout on the rooftops. Mr. Clemmons’ presence on one of the rooftops was verified after investigators discovered a cigarette butt with DNA later confirmed to belong to Mr. Clemmons.

Mr. Clemmons pleaded guilty on April 19, 2023, to burglary, possession of burglarious tools, and grand larceny, and Judge Everett A. Martin Jr. accepted his plea. On Friday, Judge Martin sentenced Mr. Clemmons to a total of four years and eight months in prison, with four years suspended. His suspended sentence is conditioned upon 20 years of good behavior, indeterminate supervised probation, and paying $32,473 in restitution to Food Lion.

Mr. Bessey pleaded guilty on April 13, 2023, to two counts of burglary, two counts of grand larceny, and two counts of conspiring to commit burglary and larceny, and Judge Michelle J. Atkins accepted his plea. He was sentenced the same day to a total of 30 years in prison, with 27 years and nine months suspended. Mr. Bessey is also to pay $32,473 in restitution to Food Lion upon his release from prison as a condition of his supervised probation.

Mr. Clemmons and Mr. Bessey both pleaded guilty in Virginia Beach Circuit Court in late 2022 to charges stemming from a similar burglary committed at a Food Lion on Ferrell Parkway. It was after their February 2022 Virginia Beach arrest that both defendants were implicated in the Norfolk burglaries. Mr. Clemmons was sentenced in Virginia Beach to an additional year in prison; Mr. Bessey was sentenced to an additional two years in prison. The Norfolk and Virginia Beach sentences will run consecutively.

“Cutting your way through the roof of grocery stores is no ordinary burglary. These crimes were significant and premeditated,” said Commonwealth’s Attorney Ramin Fatehi. “These defendants will spend time in prison for their crimes, as they have earned.”

Deputy Commonwealth’s Attorney William S. Maydosz led the sentencing of Mr. Clemmons’ case on behalf of the Commonwealth.

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