For Immediate Release
Friday, May 17, 2019
, United States Attorney
Erica H. MacDonald
Contact: Tasha Zerna
Federal Jury Convicts Champlin Man for String of Twin Cities Robberies
St. Paul Field Division
United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the conviction of MARTAVIS SHAWN DEMAR JAMES, 38, for the robbery and attempted robbery of 10 Twin Cities businesses. Following a four-day trial before U.S. District Judge Susan Richard Nelson, the jury found JAMES guilty on all counts.
United States Attorney Erica MacDonald said, “Over the course of several weeks, Mr. James carried out a brazen crime wave across the Twin Cities, targeting businesses in densely populated areas and robbing employees at gunpoint. Under the Project Safe Neighborhoods initiative, I have dedicated significant resources to pursuing violent criminals and combating gun-related violent crime such as this. When it comes to protecting our communities, we will not relent.”
As proven at trial, between March and June of 2018, JAMES robbed or attempted to rob at least 10 businesses located across the Twin Cities metro area, including locations in Anoka, Hennepin, and Ramsey Counties. The robberies mostly involved CVS Pharmacy stores across the Twin Cities metropolitan area, as well as a Dollar Tree Store in Coon Rapids and a Blaine BigLots store. In each successful robbery instance, JAMES wore a black hooded coat, a black mask and black gloves. He would point a firearm at the store employee(s), demand access to the business safe, order the employee(s) to put the cash into a duffel bag, and order them to the ground before fleeing.
As proven at trial, after gathering information on the robberies, law enforcement identified JAMES and began conducting surveillance on him. On June 1, 2018, law enforcement agents followed JAMES as he drove to a CVS store in Eden Prairie. Law enforcement agents and officers, as well as CVS security personnel, were able to lock the front doors of the CVS store prior to JAMES’ arrival, preventing him from gaining entry when he ultimately approached. When JAMES returned to his vehicle he was apprehended law enforcement.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minneapolis Police Department, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from multiple local agencies and departments that initially investigated the robberies that occurred in their jurisdictions. This case was brought as part of Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), an initiative that brings together federal, state, and local law enforcement to combat violent crime.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Allen A. Slaughter tried the case.