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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – A 36-year-old North Texas man has been sentenced to more than 25 years in federal prison after pleading guilty to participating in a series of violent jewelry store robberies at shopping malls around Dallas.

Federal prosecutors say Mark Whitfield, of Mesquite, fled with more than $400,000 in jewelry from five robberies over a six-month period ending in May 2014.

The holdups where store employees were threatened with death or were held at gunpoint took place in Dallas, Lewisville and Arlington.

During some of the robberies, Whitfield distracted store employees by pretending to be interested in buying jewelry and asking to see merchandise in the display case.  When the employee was busy opening the display case the robber would then hold them at gunpoint.

Whitfield pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to interfere with commerce by robbery and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. A U.S. District Judge sentenced him Friday.

Whitfield’s accomplice, 37-year-old Michael Demon Jackson, of Dallas, was also caught and arrested. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 49 years in federal prison.

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