Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney's Office
Central District of Illinois
For Immediate Release
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
, United States Attorney
Patrick D. Hansen
Contact: Sharon Paul
Kankakee Man Charged with Hobbs Act Robberies of Businesses in Champaign, Kankakee
Chicago Field Division
URBANA, Ill. – An April trial date has been set for a Kankakee, Ill., man charged with committing robberies of businesses in Champaign and Kankakee in July and August 2016. Thomas James, 33, of the 500 block of S. Indiana Ave., Kankakee, Ill., made his initial appearance in federal court on Feb. 16, on the charges. James has been ordered to remain detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshals Service. Trial is scheduled on April 18.
The indictment alleges that James robbed the Sprint store at 2706 N. Prospect Ave., in Champaign, on July 28, 2016, and the Circle K at 581 S. Indiana Ave., in Kankakee, on Aug. 6, 2016. Both robberies have been charged under the federal statute known as the Hobbs Act, for interference with interstate commerce by threats or violence. The indictment alleges that threats of violence were used to take cell phones and electronic devices from the Sprint store and to take cigarettes and currency from the Circle K. In addition, the indictment alleges that James used a HiPoint 9mm handgun during the robbery of the Circle K, and that he was a felon at the time he possessed the handgun.
If convicted, the statutory maximum penalty for each offense charged is prescribed by Congress and is provided here for informational purposes, as sentencing is determined by the court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors. The maximum penalty for Hobbs Act robbery is 20 years in prison; for brandishing a firearm during a crime of violence, the penalty is a mandatory seven years to life in prison to be served consecutive to any sentence ordered for the underlying crime of violence. Possession of a firearm by a felon carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison.
The charges are the result of investigation by the FBI; U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; Champaign Police Department; Kankakee Police Department; Illinois State Police; KAMEG; Alton Police Department; and, the Kankakee County State’s Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Freres is prosecuting the case on behalf of the Urbana Division, U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.