St. Ann loan business armed robbery was staged, police say

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ST. ANN (KTVI) – The robbery of a St. Ann loan business appears to have been staged, police said.

According to investigators, the robbery occurred December 15 at the AAA Community Finance on St. Charles Rock Road. The manager told police a masked man, armed with a gun, got away with $2,400 in cash.

“He was upset, distraught about the situation that had just taken place,” St. Ann Police Lt. Dan Cowsert said.

Detectives think that was all an act; that the manager, 27-year-old Joshua Sims-Brown, was in on the whole thing from the beginning. Police became suspicious after they questioned Sims-Brown several times and noticed a pattern.

“Each time we interviewed him, his stories changed a little bit,” Cowsert said.

Investigators said 37-year-old Sonia Denise Dickson, a friend of the manager, came in the store and Sims-Brown slipped her a note. That was caught on tape.

“We located a yellow Post-It note that said, ‘I was thinking what if I got robbed hint, hint,’” Cowsert said.

The note was found in the trash of a paper shredder. Police said the manager later talked to Dickson by phone, telling her to set up the robbery. She allegedly recruited 52-year-old Early Ragland. A security camera allegedly shows Ragland entering the store with his face covered by a red bandana. He apparently displayed what turned out to be a toy gun.

“He says, ‘I’m assuming you know why I’m here,’ look at him, and gives him the money,” Cowsert said, pointing to security footage.

Sims-Brown, Dickson, and Ragland are in jail with cash-only bonds totaling $115,000.

Police said it was a spur of the moment crime that obviously was not well planned. The money was also not divided evenly. Ragland only received $20 for committing the robbery, Dickson received $150 and had a $500 loan forgiven, but Sims-Brown took home the remaining $2,200.