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Felon, young son charged in carjackings, including one outside Pinellas pediatrics clinic

Anthony Phillips Jr., 38, at left, and his son Anthony Phillips III, 18, at right, are accused of armed carjackings in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The Tampa men face at least 25 years in prison, up to a maximum of life, if convicted of all federal charges. The father, with 22 prior felony convictions, faces more time if convicted of being a felon with a gun. [Pinellas County Jail]
Anthony Phillips Jr., 38, at left, and his son Anthony Phillips III, 18, at right, are accused of armed carjackings in Tampa and St. Petersburg. The Tampa men face at least 25 years in prison, up to a maximum of life, if convicted of all federal charges. The father, with 22 prior felony convictions, faces more time if convicted of being a felon with a gun. [Pinellas County Jail]
Published Feb. 28, 2018

TAMPA — Some people mend their ways as fatherhood arrives.

But Anthony Phillips Jr., now 38, was just getting started back in 1999, when Anthony Phillips III, now 18, was born. Since then, records show, the elder Phillips has been convicted of 22 felonies.

Last week a federal grand jury charged him with five more. This time, his son was charged too.

Phillips and Phillips teamed up Jan. 1 and Jan. 3 for armed carjackings of a Buick Park Avenue and a Ford Expedition, federal authorities allege. If convicted of all counts, the two face at least 25 years in prison, up to a possible sentence of life.

Phillips Jr. was carrying an AR-15-style rifle and Phillips III was armed with a semi-automatic handgun on Jan. 1 when they forced a 30-year-old Tampa man to remove the kill switch from a 1996 beige Park Avenue with $2,500 speakers and then strip to his underwear, according to a Tampa police report.

"While he was trying to take the kill switch out, he felt the rifle hit him in the back of the head," the report states. "He was then instructed to get into the car and start it, at which time he complied."

The two are also federally charged in a Jan. 3 incident in which a green Expedition and a women's purse were taken at gunpoint in the parking lot of All Star Pediatrics at 5571 Fourth St. N in St. Petersburg.

The indictment charges both Phillips Jr. and Phillips III with two counts of carjacking and two counts of brandishing a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Carjacking is punishable by no more than 15 years. But the gun charges carry a required sentence of at least 15 years on the first count and 25 years on the second count, penalties that run consecutive to any other.

The elder Phillips is also charged with illegally possessing a .45-caliber Hi-Point rifle and ammunition, punishable by at least 15 years because he is considered an "armed career criminal" under federal law.

His prior convictions (from 1999, 2000, 2002, 2013 and 2017) include robbery, battery, aggravated assault, attempted carjacking, vehicle theft, delivery of a counterfeit substance, obstructing/opposing an officer with violence, failure to appear in court, fleeing a crash scene, fleeing from police (three convictions), cocaine possession (six convictions) and cocaine delivery (three convictions).

The son had a history of juvenile arrests that did not lead to convictions. But in August, Tampa police reported finding him with 1.6 grams of heroin, divided into small bags. That case, in adult court, is still pending.

Senior news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Contact Patty Ryan at (813) 226-3382 or pryan@tampabay.com.