For Immediate Release
Brooklyn Man Charged with Nine Hobbs Act Robberies of Local Gas Stations and Convenience Stores
Defendant Caught With a Gun and a Ski Mask After Ninth Robbery
An 11-count indictment was unsealed today in federal court in Brooklyn charging Benjamin Uzilov with conspiracy to commit Hobbs Act robbery, nine counts of Hobbs Act robbery, and brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence. Uzilov was previously arrested on a complaint that charged him with robbing three 7-Eleven stores on September 26, 2018. The indictment charges the defendant with a total of nine robberies in Brooklyn, adding three additional robberies on September 16, 2018 and three additional robberies on September 25, 2018. Uzilov will be arraigned at a later date.
Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, Ashan M. Benedict, Special Agent-in-Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and James P. O’Neill, Commissioner, New York City Police Department (NYPD), announced the charges. Mr. Donoghue expressed his appreciation to the NYPD detectives and ATF special agents assigned to the Strategic Pattern Armed Robbery Technical Apprehension (SPARTA) Task Force for their work during the investigation.
"As alleged in the indictment, Uzilov carried out a crime wave, repeatedly targeting Brooklyn businesses where he robbed hard-working store clerks at gunpoint," stated United States Attorney Donoghue. "This Office is committed to vigorously prosecuting those violent criminals who commit robberies, jeopardizing the safety of members of our community, in order to fill their own pockets with cash."
"The defendant as alleged has committed numerous brazen acts of violence leaving innocent people traumatized and in a state of fear," stated ATF Special Agent-in-Charge Benedict. "Thanks to the excellent
commitment to protecting citizens from violence and the lasting effects it has on communities. I would also like to thank the United States Attorney’s Office for prosecuting this case."
"There is no place in civil society for violent criminals who target innocent New Yorkers," stated NYPD Police Commissioner O’Neill. "I commend the NYPD detectives and ATF investigators who comprise our Strategic Pattern Armed Robbery and Technical Apprehensions Task Force, or SPARTA – who so effectively pursue and strengthen high-profile armed robbery cases like this. And now, due to the nature of these crimes and the unparalleled cooperation between our agencies and the Eastern District of New York, I am very confident he will be successfully prosecuted and receive a lengthy federal prison sentence."
As detailed in court pleadings and as captured on video surveillance, Uzilov entered each store, threatened employees with a gun and then stole money from his victims. On more than one occasion, Uzilov ordered his victims to get on the floor and count to 10 as he exited the store. Shortly after the final robbery on September 26, 2018, Uzilov was apprehended by NYPD officers at a gas station on Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn. The officers observed a black ski mask on the front seat of Uzilov’s car and recovered cash in the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and a gun in the glove compartment.
The charges in the indictment are allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. If convicted, Uzilov faces a minimum of seven years in prison.
The indictment charges Johnson with the following robberies, all in Brooklyn:
• Shell Gas Station on September 16, 2018;
• Mill Basin Convenience Store on September 16, 2018;
• Allegiance Gas Station on September 16, 2018;
• Verrazano Deli and Grocery on September 25, 2018;
• Stop and Smile Grocery on September 25, 2018;
• Sam’s Deli on September 25, 2018;
• 7-Eleven on September 26, 2018;
• 7-Eleven on September 26, 2018; and
• 7-Eleven on September 26, 2018.
The government’s case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Section. Assistant United States Attorney Megan E. Farrell is in charge of the prosecution.
Brooklyn, New York
E.D.N.Y. Docket No. 18-CR-546