Minneapolis' 'iPhone Man' pleads guilty in cell phone theft ring

Following a violent scheme orchestrated to steal victim’s cell phones, then use them to transfer funds and sell them on the black market, Zhongshuang Su has pleaded guilty to his role in the fraud.

On Monday, Sept. 11, Su, who is also known as Brandon Su and goes by the moniker "iPhone Man," pleaded guilty to four counts of receiving stolen property, while a charge of racketeering is being dropped. His plea will be formally accepted when he is sentenced on Nov. 9. He's expected to be sentenced to 13 months in prison, which will be stayed for three years if he stays out of trouble. In addition, at his sentencing, the prosecution could ask for Su to serve up to a year in a workhouse and potential deportation afterward. 

A large-scale investigation involving the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) and Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) dating back more than a year involves dozens of alleged victims – some violently injured – and losses topping $200,000.

In total, charges detail more than 40 victims with losses nearing $160,000 in cash, another $85,000 in cryptocurrency and stolen smartphone devices worth an estimated $25,000. The defendants range in age from 18 to 41, and are both men and women.

The Hennepin County Attorney’s office is using a unique strategy in state criminal court, charging past suspects with racketeering for orchestrating a sophisticated scheme. Authorities allege their efforts were a coordinated, brazen, criminal enterprise, mostly in and around the city’s popular bar districts. With the racketeering charge, prosecutors can seek stiffer sentences over charges for individual cell phone thefts.

Alfonze Stuckey pleaded guilty to one count of racketeering on Dec. 1, 2022 – the first person to be sentenced as part of the scheme. As part of the plea deal, Stuckey agreed to a nearly five-year prison term, 57 months in total. In exchange, the state signed off on not adding any additional charges against him beyond what is already laid out in the racketeering complaint.

"We need tough justice, we need tough safety," downtown Minneapolis restaurant owner David Fhima told FOX 9 previously.