U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota
District of Minnesota
For Immediate Release
Monday, June 11, 2012
B. Todd Jones, United States Attorney
Contact: Jeanne F. Cooney, Director of Community Relations
Man Pleads Guilty to the Armed Robbery of a Bemidji Convenience Store
MINNEAPOLIS — Earlier today in federal court in Duluth, a 21–year–old man pleaded guilty to committing the December 30, 2011, armed robbery of Newby’s Market in Bemidji. Jason Lee King, no known address, pleaded guilty to one count of interference with commerce by robbery, pursuant to the Hobbs Act, and one count of using, carrying, and brandishing a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence. King, who was indicted on April 3, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle.
In his plea agreement, King admitted that on December 30, he stole approximately $1,476 from the store while threatening a store clerk with a loaded, short–barreled shotgun. According to a law enforcement affidavit filed in the case, the market was robbed just before 9:00 p.m. by two masked men armed with a shotgun and a knife. After the robbery, the men fled in a blue pickup. In responding to the robbery, officers spotted the truck. The two men were abandoning it and fleeing into the woods. King and a juvenile male were ultimately found and taken into custody. Officers recovered the 20–gauge shotgun in the wooded area, along the route the men had taken. Inside the pickup truck, police found $1,420 in cash, a black ski mask, several Newby’s Market receipts, and a check made out to Newby’s Market.
The Hobbs Act, passed by Congress in 1946, allows federal prosecutors to prosecute violent, habitual criminals who commit armed robbery in places of business involved in interstate commerce. Federal prosecution of these cases is sometimes beneficial since the penalties are often tougher than under state law. Furthermore, because the federal system has no parole, those who receive federal sentences serve virtually their entire sentence behind bars.
For his crimes, King faces a potential maximum penalty of life in prison for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, and 20 years for the interference with commerce by robbery. Judge Kyle will determine his sentence at a future hearing.
This case is the result of an investigation by the Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey S. Paulsen.