U.S. Department of Justice
United States Attorney
District of Minnesota
District of Minnesota
For Immediate Release
March 11, 2013
B. Todd Jones, United States Attorney
Contact: Jeanne F. Cooney, Director of Community Relations
Minneapolis man pleads guilty in armed robbery of a St. Paul pharmacy
MINNEAPOLIS — Earlier today in federal court in St. Paul, a 31-year-old Minneapolis man pleaded guilty in connection with the April 3, 2012, armed robbery of the West 7th Pharmacy in St. Paul. Michael Brooks Bynum pleaded guilty to one count of interference with commerce by robbery pursuant to the Hobbs Act, and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. Bynum, who was indicted along with two co-defendants on July 10, 2012, entered his plea before United States District Court Judge Susan Richard Nelson.
In his plea agreement, Bynum admitted that on April 3, he drove Ray James Brown, age 24, and Rayshawn Earl James Brown, age 21, both of Minneapolis, to the pharmacy with the intent to rob it. Bynum also admitted that the three had planned the robbery together, and that after the robbery he drove the three away until they were stopped by police. In addition, Bynum admitted he participated in the armed robberies of Lloyds Pharmacy in St. Paul on February 18, 2012, the Best Aid Pharmacy in St. Louis Park on March 15, 2012, and the Pro Pharmacy in St. Paul on March 27, 2012.
In September 2012, Ray Brown pleaded guilty to two counts of possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence, and Rayshawn Brown pleaded guilty to one countof interference with commerce by robbery pursuant to the Hobbs Act and one count of possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence. In their plea agreements, they admitted entering the pharmacy wearing gloves and masks. Ray Brown admitted pointing a .40-caliber, semi-automatic pistol at store employees and demanded they get down on the floor. Ray Brown also admitted ordering the pharmacist to place pharmaceutical drugs, such as Percocet, Vicodin and Oxycontin into a white plastic bag. Then, they admitted running from the store to the awaiting Cadillac. In addition, Ray Brown and Rayshawn Brown admitted running from police after the Cadillac was stopped. Ray Brown was apprehended following a short foot chase, and police recovered the pistol he tossed during the pursuit. Rayshawn Brown was arrested about an hour later after emerging from behind a nearby house, claiming to be a homeless person who lived under the porch.
In addition, Ray Brown admitted that he participated in the armed robberies of Lloyds Pharmacy in St. Paul on February 18, 2012, the Best Aid Pharmacy in St. Louis Park on March 15, 2012, and the Pro Pharmacy in St. Paul on March 27, 2012. Rayshawn Brown also admitted that he participated in the Pro Pharmacy robbery.
For their crimes, Bynum and Rayshawn Brown face a potential maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison on the interference with commerce by robbery pursuant to the Hobbs Act count. All three defendants face a mandatory minimum of seven years and a maximum penalty of life in prison on the possession of a firearm in furtherance of a crime of violence count, while Ray Brown faces a mandatory minimum penalty of 25 years on the second possession of a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence count. Judge Nelson will determine their sentences at a future hearing, yet to be scheduled.
The Hobbs Act, passed by Congress in 1946, provides federal jurisdiction for cases involving violent, habitual criminals who commit armed robbery in businesses involved in interstate commerce. Federal prosecution of these offenders is sometimes beneficial since the penalties may be tougher than under state law. To that end, the U.S. Attorneys Office and its County Attorney partners are working together to ensure that violent offenders are effectively prosecuted, making our communities safer for all.
This case is the result of an investigation by the St. Paul Police Department, the St. Louis Park Police Department, the Hennepin County Violent Offender Task Force, and the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. It is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Julie E. Allyn.