HOWELL — A third woman has been sentenced to prison in connection with a retail theft incident at Ulta Beauty in Green Oak Township about a year ago.
Joya Omega Williams, 37, of Detroit, was sentenced to 12-40 years in the Michigan Department of Corrections on Thursday, Feb. 1, in Livingston County 44th Circuit Court before Chief Judge Michael Hatty.
Williams receives credit for 384 days served in jail. She must also pay roughly $9,200 in restitution.
Williams was one of five women charged in connection with the incident. Tirezah Scott was sentenced to 17-40 years in prison in December. Shanel Webster was sentenced to 25-60 years in prison on Jan. 4. The two final defendants, Laronda Chase and Kari Williams, are scheduled to be sentenced Thursday, Feb. 8.
Joya Williams pled guilty in December to one count of conducting criminal enterprises, two counts of first-degree retail fraud, two counts of organized retail crime and one count of concealing stolen property less than $20,000. Williams was charged as a fourth offense habitual offender.
The incident took place Jan. 12, 2023, at Ulta Beauty. The municipality’s police department said five suspects entered the store and filled a bag with merchandise. One suspect fled on foot, while the others got in two separate vehicles and began to drive away.
According to Michigan State Police, while a trooper was attempting to arrest the woman who fled on foot, the second vehicle drove directly at him. He fired his weapon, and the car was struck. There were no injuries. The vehicle stopped in the parking lot after colliding with the back of Men’s Wearhouse.
Livingston County Assistant Prosecutor Kollette Bordeaux said Williams drove a getaway car. Bordeaux added that Joya Williams told Ulta staff she was only in the store to use the bathroom. Williams also lied during her interview with police, Bordeaux said.
Bordeaux noted the defendants were involved in similar incidents at three Ingham County stores that day, though they have not been charged.
“We need to send a message that these groups will face severe punishment for their actions,” Bordeaux said.
Christopher Nalley, Williams’ defense attorney, said she was nowhere near the shooting. He said Williams had a difficult life, and told the court a sentence of 10 years was more appropriate. Williams declined to speak at sentencing.
Hatty noted the middle of the guidelines was 15 years but reduced it by three years — believing Williams has the potential to change her ways.
“I do have hope for you going forward,” Hatty said.
Hatty said store employees and shoppers deserve safety and there’s a price to pay for this kind of behavior.
“You were part of a group that caused a lot of trouble,” he said.